16 Jan 2004

American Samoan lawmaker concerned communication problems

12:22 pm on 16 January 2004

A lawmaker in American Samoa has expressed disappointment with the government over the lack of emergency communication to the public during the cyclone Heta last week.

Representative Gafatasi Afalava says state-owned television KVZK-TV went off the air at the early stages of Heta, leaving residents waiting fearfully in the dark for the arrival of the cyclone.

The TV's transmitter was knocked down by strong winds and was not restored until seven days later.

Although one private radio station stayed on air throughout Heta, its transmission does not reach the outlying areas of Tutuila or any of the Manu'as.

Gafatasi says he was fortunate to pick up the transmission by Samoa government radio SBC throughout the ordeal.

He says the local government should set up a public radio station that covers all areas of the territory in case of emergencies so information can be distributed.