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Rep. Sanitoa seeks funding for new vacuum truck

DPW vacuum truck when it was newly delivered in 2012.

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Rep. Larry S. Sanitoa is seeking assistance from Keith Gebauer, executive director of the ASG American Rescue Plan Act Oversight Office to look at any possibility to fund a new vacuum truck for maintenance of drainage in Tualauta. 

In an email letter request this week, Sanitoa explained to Gebauer that it has been over a year now since the “expensive” Public Works Department (DPW) vacuum truck has been inoperable and needing repairs. 

As a result, Sanitoa said he continues to rely on American Samoa Power Authority’s help with their sewer pump truck to “help pump out the stagnant water that is literally a cesspool by Hope House.” 

“Every time there is a heavy downpour, it is impossible to use the back entrance to Hope House due to the high level of stagnant water,” Sanitoa explained to Gebauer.  

Despite ASPA's busy schedule with utility related work, and knowing the sewer pump trucks are not meant for pumping out stagnant water with soot and debris at Hope House, ASPA’s executive director Wallon Young, “has continued to accommodate my requests in sending his crew to pump out the water at Hope House,” he said.

After many follow-ups with DPW on the status of their vacuum truck, Sanitoa said he was informed Wednesday that unfortunately the latest update from DPW is that they had to send the computer board back to the manufacturer to be reprogrammed.

He reiterated that the DPW vacuum truck has been out of commission since March 2020; plus it is old and has been in operation for over 10 years now. 

He points out that the vacuum truck is the only equipment that can help address the serious drainage problems in Tualauta and several other areas that have drainage throughout the territory that is blocked.

Sanitoa is hoping for possible funding through ARPA and he is also prepared to take the matter up with the governor for assistance with funding to purchase a vacuum truck specifically for cleaning up drainage. 

Sanitoa also copied his email letter to the Office of Disaster Assistance and Petroleum Management (ODAPM) executive director, Lisa Tuato'o as she has been trying to look for funding as well for a new vacuum truck.