Taiasina Taia I’u, from the village of Falelauniu, is a worried man.
Aged 49, Taiasina says he is especially concerned about a Chinese owned alcohol factory being build in their area.
For many years now, the villager have had to endure the toxic chemicals produced by the factory and Taiasina says that it’s a real health risk, especially for the children.
“The biggest challenge we face is that alcohol factory on the other side of the road,” he told the Village Voice.
“If you look on my roof, it’s all black due to the smoke from those chimneys. We have requested P.U.M.A’s assistance for so long now but they don’t seem to want to help.
“That smoke can’t be right. The residences in this area are forced to inhale the toxic smoke every day and it’s a real health risk.
“My children are growing up and it seems like they will have to endure breathing in that smoke for about ten more years.”
Taiasina said that the factory has gotten the ‘ok’ from the government despite the risks it posses to the residence in the area.
“I went to ask them to explain themselves and they said that they have approval from P.U.M.A,” he said.
“Compared to cigarettes, the smoke produced from that factory is far worse. And everyone in this village has no choice but to smoke it.
“This can’t be right. That’s a big problem here. “
Weighing the pros and cons, Taiasina says that the risks to the people heavily outweigh any benefit the alcohol factory has.
“We should have some rights because this is our land, we paid for it,” he said.
“Now those Chinese come over and build their alcohol factory and we suffer from it. I was wondering what they were making over there and its spirits.
“I don’t that’s a good enough excuse to make the people suffer. The chemicals are also affecting the growth of my banana trees. This is just not healthy.”
Taiasina also says that with one of his friends going through with building an accommodation business in the area, the smoke will paint a bad picture of Samoa for the tourists.
“I don’t know what I am going to do; I can’t just go and chase those Chinese people away,” he said.
“Someone in power should come and help the residence in the area. Everyone is just eating that smoke every day.
“Another one of my friends is trying to build a small accommodation on the other side and to be honest, as soon as the accommodation guests smell the smoke they are going to leave Samoa right away.”
Aside from problems with the factory, the villagers also have to deal with the very bad road condition in the area.
“Another problem we are facing in our village is the road condition,” he said.
“We just don’t know where else to go to for help. The government won’t come and assist us and those entrusted with road services won’t look our way.
“We have also given our car to our other family members because it was starting to get badly damaged due to our roads.”
After the constant neglect from the government, Taiasina explains how desperate they are to have a voice.
“Our election candidate made a lot of promises and none of it has been met,” he said.
“It seems like we have to wait for the next election to hear more broken promises. That’s why I like programmes like what your company is doing.
“It’s the only way we can make people see what’s happening in our everyday life. Many things are overlooked but when we finally have a voice, then people will see the truth.”