Tonga looks at evacuation bridge
Tonga could possibly build a bridge to answer worries that the low-lying capital of Nuku'alofa has no clear evacuation plan in the event of a tsunami.
Tonga's could possibly build a bridge to answer worries that the low-lying capital of Nuku'alofa has no clear evacuation plan in the event of a tsunami.
Last week, Nobles' representative Lord Nuku raised concerns in parliament saying with the main road regularly congested, he would hate to see what would happen in a natural disaster.
Lord Nuku pointed out although there was money in the budget, and sirens had been set up, there was nowhere to run.
The Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni told Koro Vaka'uta it has been a long-standing issue.
SIAOSI SOVALENI: So there's been a few options some of them is evacuation others is actually identifying areas that people can actually go to in the capital. But the other option is to actually look at providing an alternative route such as like an evacuation bridge to offer another option of getting out of the capital.
KORO VAKA'UTA: In terms of this discussion, it was all brought up via of course the budget debate, so there has been financing and funds directed in this kind of area?
SS: It's been funding to look at the feasibility and actually do the proper costing and look at the possibility of having such an evacuation bridge. But we have funding in place for putting in roads, to enable people to basically facilitate evacuation in some of the vulnerable areas
KV: And to I guess remove that traffic density?
SS: That's right the main road Taufa'ahau so even if we get the warning there, there's only that route out of the main capital so it's going to be a congested road if we need to evacuate the capital so we're looking other options or alternatives to help us
KV: How would the bridge work, what kind of structure are you talking about?
SS: That's what is going to be the study. And we're happy working with the Asian development bank to look at the feasibility what would be the appropriate structure, the costing that goes with, it's not only about evacuation. But if you work out the travel costs too - going from the capital to the airport is about 40 minutes but if you had this bridge you could probably do it in about 10 minutes from the capital. There are other social, economic benefits other than serving as an evacuation route.
KV: So how much funds are facilitated, are looking at this whole project or area?
SS: There are a few numbers floating around which is why we're getting experts to come in and do a proper one and do a proper one looking at the feasibility to actually look at the pros and cons and the benefits to see if we can justify actually having that bridge.
KV: What is the timeline for that project ?
SS: We're looking at the end of the year to the actually do the feasibility and the costing and so forth in the next couple of months we are hoping to mobilise and have someone look at it.
KV: You did mention the possibility of areas, some areas around Nuku'alofa where people could go
SS: That's right the NZ high commission rests in one of those areas, we already having discussions with them about whether people can access that particular hill. But that's only 1 of 3 places that are relatively high so there is so advanced discussions so that people in these places can come there in the case of an evacuation or tsunami warning and so forth.
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