By Joshua Lafoa’i, Savali.
The opening of the National Emergency Operation Centre at Tuanaimato last week makes Samoa the first Pacific Island country to have a centralised emergency operation headquarters.
Funded by the World Bank through an International Development Association (IDA) grant, the center is the final product of a united engagement by Samoa’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) through the Pacific Resilience Project. (PREP).
The development objective of the Pacific Resilience Project under the Pacific Resilience Program for Samoa is to strengthen early warning, resilient investments and financial protection of Samoa.
PREP had four components including;
• Strengthening Early Warning and Preparedness
• Risk Reduction and Resilient Investments
• Disaster Risk Financing and
• Project Management
In its first five years, the project includes Tonga, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa.
In dedicating the new two-storey headquarters last week, Prime Minister and MNRE Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi acknowledged the Government’s vision, which had been in place since the back to back devastation caused by cyclones Ofa and Val in 1990 and 1991.
“It is necessary for Samoa to have a central office that our people can turn to when disaster strikes;
“Before the NEOC was formed, our people had to go from Ministry to Ministry seeking assistance from various departments, but now, we have a central location where all national emergency services can coordinate and effectively respond at times of natural disasters,” he said.
The $6.4million tala building is a state of the art structure, equipped with the latest technology to assist the NEOC in its response to natural disasters, emergencies and as recently experienced, disease pandemics.
The building is fitted with a high level radio network, an emergency operation center backup generator, and an independent water supply from 10,000 litre water tanks.
“This infrastructure will boost the job performed by the NEOC to increase the resilience of Samoa as well as the Pacific region, to natural hazards such as cyclones, coastal/riverine flooding, volcanoes, tsunamis and earthquakes by improving the quality of forecasting and warning services”.
The design and blueprint for the emergency center was drawn by the Kramer Ausenco (Samoa) Ltd contractors, and was constructed by the Zheng (Samoa) Company Ltd who won the bid for the construction tender.