Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has rejected concerns from a matai of the village of Apia about the Apia Waterfront Project.
Last week, Lima Soifua Efu, said he supported the initiative but expressed reservations about the impact of the plan on the young people of the village.
Lima told the Samoa Observer there needs to be guidelines for tourists to follow when they are relaxing on the Waterfront beaches. His concern was mainly on young children who are exposed to tourists’ sun tanning on the beach almost naked. He also made reference to the number of crimes in Apia, saying opening up the place will invite all sorts of troubles.
But Prime Minister Tuilaepa said there was no need to be alarmed.
He explained that the reason why palagi want to burn their skin is because they want to be like angels who have brown skins, the same colour as Samoans.
“I was shocked to read on the Observer about an elderly man and his concerns,” Tuilaepa said.
“If you go to New Zealand and Aleipata the reason why palagi like to burn their skin is because they want to be brown and my message to the elderly man is to tell his children not to burn their skin they will get darker instead of brown.”
When the Prime Minister was told that the concerns from the matai was instead about half naked women lying on the beach he said it wasn’t true.
“Have you seen a palagi lying infront of Aggie Grey’s hotel like that,” he fired back.
“It’s been four years (since the beach was opened) and I have not seen a palagi there like that. Those are just dreams and that is why I don’t want to comment about it – its all dreams.”
During the launching of the final plan of the Waterfront project this week, Lima suggested there needs to be guidelines for tourists to follow when they are relaxing on the Waterfront beach.
“Our village covers Matautu all the way to Mulinu’u,” said Lima. “The impact of this project is big especially that it is in our village. I worry about girls who come and lie on the beach and our children are walking across from the road and seeing them in their bikinis."
“How can our children feel safe when they see this infront of their own homes? There are young youths who are roaming around town and if they came across such a view that will be another problem especially with the growing number of crimes in Apia that we hear on the news everyday."
“A village boy who would come across a palagi lying there on the beach with little they wear they will probably watch them all day and go home when its dark…the effect is big and we need regulations for tourists to follow so we can protect our children and our people.”
The matai added their concerns have been passed on to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. What he was told by the Ministry is they will try.
“Trying is not good enough for us,” he said.
“They have to do it because trying is saying that they are considering it rather than doing it.”
In launching the plan, Prime Minister Tuilaepa called for open minds. “We ask you to open your minds with the possibilities that can transform our existing city into an enjoyable and functional place that is well thought out and designed,” he said.
“These illustrations allow us to visualise how we can raise the standard of our city and entertain different ideas for the four waterfront areas.”
According to the Prime Minister, the waterfront plan provides a packaged implementation approach to develop the capital works.
“This approach will allow potential investors and development partners to implement a defined package of works within a particular area."
“The Government has already received interest from some of our development partners to develop parts of the waterfront in accordance with our principles and concept designs provided in the plan."
“With the launching of the plan, I anticipate more interest and we will continue to work with all our stakeholders in implementing this plan and to create a waterfront that is attractive safe and unique giving all who visit Apia memorable experiences.”