A stall owner at the Fugalei Market is not a happy woman.
Mena Tuala Taimalelagi has criticised the Accident Compensation Corporation’s (A.C.C) decision to order her to pay $1,300 in order for her to resume using stall number 89 at the market.
Ms. Taimalelagi said she is being punished for an amount she did not incur and this is unfair.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, she said the stall’s account with A.C.C was already in arrears when she took over.
“This stall had arrears of $1,300 and before I started using it I was told I have to pay the full amount of $1,300 in order for me to use the stall,” she said.
“And because I was desperate to use this stall, I paid $500 to them and then I started using the stall in April.”
But something happened last week that really upset her.
“Just yesterday my children came in the morning to open the stall they found that a yellow tape had been used to cordon off the area.
“I contacted the office to ask them what happened and one of the ladies there said I have to pay the full amount of the arrears in order for them to give back the stall for me to use.”
Ms. Taimalelagi said this is not fair.
“I am really disappointed because they are demanding me to pay the arrears that is not even mine’s,” she said.
“They should’ve let me use the stall but they should deal with the person who incurred the arrears, not me. I’m the innocent party here and yet I have been made the victim.
“There is no such thing under the sun where I should pay for somebody else’s debt. That is just not right.”
Contacted for a comment, an official at A.C.C who did not want to be named, confirmed the incident but said Ms. Taimalelagi does not understand the procedures. “We didn’t force her to pay the $500 tala,” the official said. “She agreed to it because she was desperate to use the stall.
“Ms. Taimalelagi had a stall at City Mart and because it was suddenly closed, she then moved to Fugalei because she was desperate.
“The stall 89 had an arrear of $1,300 and right now we are following up on the previous owner of the block to pay the arrears.
“The seal we placed at the stall was to let everyone know that this stall has reached up to $1,000 tala in arrears. Our policy is that when the arrears reach a certain amount, we will seal off the block.”
Away from the initial arrears, the official confirmed that Ms. Taimalelagi owes $720 in terms of rent.
“She only paid $500tala which left $280 and so when she came this morning we told her she has to pay $180 tala in order for us to take the seal off and she can pay the rest bit by bit.
“The arrears of $1,300 is still sitting here waiting for the people who owe us to pay it but as for Ms. Taimalelagi that was the reason why we sealed her stall.”
But Ms. Taimalelagi disputed this saying she doesn’t owe $720.
“I remember I wasn’t using the stall for about three weeks and so I have an arrears of about $210 because that’s how it is even if the owner doesn’t come to the stall we still have to pay,” she said.
“They even told me I have to pay $180tala to take the seal off but I thought about it and I am actually paying a lot more for this stall and I am suffering while the people who did this are out there.”
The disappointed stall owner said she is worried because her products are still in the stall and she might not get it back.
“I don’t want this stall anymore because I will be suffering paying for someone else’s debt, that is just not right,” she said.
“They even told me this morning to not only pay the $180 but also my rent will go up to $20tala every day to cover the arrears.
“This is just not right. Nobody should go through this by paying for somebody else’s arrears. They should find the person responsible and punish them accordingly.”