Govt. plans for tormented Sogi community revealed

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia ,

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Shut away to the left of this road and the wall alongside it is the community called Sogi, which is the centre of the dispute between its residents who have been living here all their lives and their government.

Shut away to the left of this road and the wall alongside it is the community called Sogi, which is the centre of the dispute between its residents who have been living here all their lives and their government.

The relocation of Sogi residents will allow the government to develop the area as part of its long term plans. 

The Minister of Public Enterprises, who is also responsible for the Samoa Land Corporation, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, said the long term plan looks at 100 years ahead to develop the area. 

Lautafi told the Samoa Observer yesterday the area is also vulnerable to natural disasters and it’s only fitting to relocate the people of Sogi. 

He said; “It does not look conducive to have people living in the area when there are long term plans by government.  

“If you also look at the (Sogi) strip, the residents are vulnerable to natural disasters and we have witnessed the power of tsunami. If government does not make a decision now it will take the blame after for not relocating the people to a safe place.”

Lautafi made it clear the government will not backtrack on its plan to develop the area. 

Told that other residents from Sogi are refusing to leave the area, the Minister said the government’s decision is final. 

“Samoa Land Corporation is carrying out the decision from government,” he said. 

“A lot of them have relocated but a few are still there and S.L.C. is trying to (remove) do that in a peaceful manner. In things like this, there are times that government makes decisions for the betterment of everyone that people will not agree to. It’s like you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. The government will do what it has to do for its long term plans.”

 As for people who continue to defy governments decision, Lautafi pointed out that the law will deal with them. 

Minister of Public Enterprises: Lautafi Selafi Purcell.
Minister of Public Enterprises: Lautafi Selafi Purcell.

While the Minister would not give a specific answer as to what kind of development the government is planning for the area, Lautafi said it connects to the proposed Vaiusu international wharf. 

“It’s all part of the development of our town,” he said. 

“There is the government plan for the wharf in Vaiusu and there is a connection to those developments. If would be very hard to get underway if there are people living in this area.”

The Minister used an example of the Bastion Point in Auckland ,New Zealand where the Maori people were removed from the area. 

Lautafi said a lot of Maoris protested against their removal but the N.Z. government did not want them to live in the area as it was part of their urban planning. 

Fast forward to today, the Minister said the sight is one of the most visited historical places in New Zealand since it was developed by the government of N.Z. 

The history of Bastion Point goes back to the 1970s when police and army personnel removed more than 200 people from the area. 

Bastion Point was occupied by protesters in 1977 after the N.Z. government announced a housing development on former Ngati Whatua (tribe) reserve land. 

The tribe protested against the loss of land in the Orakei block which had once been declared ‘absolutely inalienable’.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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