Still no takers for the “$4.4million” building

By Ilia L. Likou ,

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’WHITE ELEPHANT’: Samoa Land Corporation’s $4.4million headquarters at Tuanaimato.

’WHITE ELEPHANT’: Samoa Land Corporation’s $4.4million headquarters at Tuanaimato.

A number of bidders have expressed interest in the Samoa Land Corporation’s $4.4million headquarters at Tuanaimato but the building remains untenanted.

This was confirmed by a Senior Officer at Samoa Land Corporation in an interview with the Samoa Observer yesterday.

“There are a number of bidders that are on the table and we are working on it now, this (final report) needs to be handed over to the board before further proceedings as usual,” an official said.

The government has been looking for a tenant to rent the abandoned building since 2014 and while there have been several attempts to locking in a good tenant, nothing has materialised.

Last year, the government offered the building to a foreign group called, Hope for Cancer.

However in an interview with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell he said that the “Committee that the government appointed to deal with the Hope for Cancer has been disbanded and this happened when the organization contacted us to give them more time.”

But the delay in their plans meant the government needed to move on.

“That means that there’s no need for the three C.E.O.s appointed by the government to work with them (Hope for Cancer),” said Lautafi.

“We can find another space for them (Hope for Cancer) when they come and whatever they want.”

He said one of the reasons for the delay was that they need more time to plan.

“So we’ve already contacted them (Hope for Cancer) that we’ve let the building go so we could look into other developments to make use of the facility.”

The Minister said there is interest from few organisations like F.A.O., Peace Corps and others.

“That’s why we are continuing with this process as usual,” he said about the building being tendered. “So if anyone wants it, there’s a chance to submit a proposal.

“The Samoa Land Corporation is working on it (re-advertisement) now. 

He went on to say that “better planning” is what the government is looking at.

“The fact is – we can never foretell what happens next but we can minimise whatever problems that involve the government,” he said.

“We need to work carefully on due diligence, business plans, you know, like - what kind of designs of project(s) to meet businesses and people’s needs.”

Lautafi said that good strategy to prepare for any problems that might arise in the future.

“There are unavoidable risks but at last...we can calculate it.”He said there was no need for a professor to come and work out a solution for whatever the problem might be.

“Once we look at it then automatically we know how to deal with it through ‘tofa fetu’utu’una’i’“.

The Corporation vacated the Tuanaimato premises in 2014 and have since moved their offices to the top floor of the Vaitele Market.

In April 2015, Cabinet announced that the negotiations to lease the office complex at Faleata Golf Course so that it could be converted to a commercially owned accommodation complex, had reached a deadlock.

A statement from Cabinet at the time said the original tender did not stipulate non-negotiable conditions and that allowed the parties to include issues that were outside the original tender scope in their negotiations.

The government said it had exhausted all options available to accommodate the business proposals.

In the end they could not agree on a compromise.

And to that extent, Cabinet approved to re-advertise the tender.

“These things happen, it is normal in business transactions,” Lautafi said at the time.

“While every effort is made by Government to encourage and assist local business like E.I.L, we have to ensure Government assets are protected.”

“The new tender will include specific details, requirements will be very clear on what is on offer and what can be negotiated and what can’t. The tender document will be made very clear to parties involved.”

“This will minimize a repeat of events highlighted during the last tender process negotiations.”

Government’s initial target was for the new hotel to provide accommodation for overseas athletes during the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2015.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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