Tonga flooding: Call to declare state of emergency

Tongan Opposition Leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva has called on the government to declare a state of emergency after heavy rain and flooding across Tongatapu last week.

The House was told flooding had never been so widespread before.

Pohiva said his constituents were concerned by the frequency of the flooding and the lack of action by the government. 

“A woman came to me this morning, weeping while complaining about the flooding,” Pohiva said.

He attributed the level of flooding in his area to recent road construction by Chinese constructors.

The Opposition Leader said after work on the Sunia ‘Akaveka Road up to Hala ‘o Vave Road, properties within the area appeared to have been fenced in, allowing floodwater to collect.

Up to 80 percent of toilets in the area had been flooded.

Responding to Pohiva, Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu, who is also Minister for Infrastructure, said three pumps had been working since the week before last week in Tongata’eapa.  

“We are just trying to keep down the level of the flooding as we cannot fight against Mother Nature,” he said. 

The Deputy Prime Minister said he had visited areas like Ha’atafu and Sopu and had never experienced such a volume of rain before.

He said flooding in the region was “really serious.”

Hihifo (Western) was hardest hit by the downpours, with localised flooding in some areas in the central area, the House was told.

Hundreds of homes were affected and pictures taken during the flooding suggest the flood waters may be up to 1 metre deep in places.

Vaipulu told the House he would call an emergency meeting with the Tongan National Emergency Committee.

Pohiva asked why he was going to call a meeting to gather information about the flooding when he knew how big the disaster was.

Vaipulu appealed to the Speaker about Pohiva’s interjection, but the Speaker told him the government already had enough information about the flooding and should act now.

The main points

  • Tongan Opposition Leader ‘Akilisi Pohiva has called on the government to declare a state of emergency after heavy rain and flooding across Tongatapu.
  • Both Dr Pohiva and Deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulu said the amount of rain and extent of flooding were unprecedented.
  • In some places the flood level may be up to 1.5 metres deep
  • The Speaker of the Tongan Parliament supported Dr Pohiva and said the government should act immediately.

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