Minister confirms suspensions

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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MINISTER OF WORKS, TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTRE: Papalii Niko Lee Hang.

MINISTER OF WORKS, TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTRE: Papalii Niko Lee Hang. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

Two Assistant Chief Executive Officers of the Land Transport Authority (L.T.A.) have been suspended.

This is in connection to an internal investigation on allegations that information was altered on the L.T.A. system to allow vehicles belonging to them to be registered.

The suspensions were confirmed by the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang. 

According to the Minister, the A.C.E.O's are suspended with pay until the investigation is completed. 

Asked about the identity of the officials in question and what positions they hold, the Minister said he could not divulge that information at this stage.

The Minister said he’s currently waiting for a report from the Board of Directors of the L.T.A.  

“I cannot comment on the details of the case; however I am waiting for the results of the investigations by the L.T.A. Board; as you know they make the recommendation, not me.”  

Asked whether the L.T.A. will seek assistance from the Police, Papali’i was skeptical. 

“This is an internal matter. We have to consider the seriousness of the case first before we take that route. Again we are looking at whether these allegations are accurate. 

“Also we have to give those involved the time to respond to the allegations made against them.” 

The Minister assured that justice will prevail “again we have to wait whether these allegations are true or not true”. 

Asked as to why the investigation is taking so long, and the Minister said there is no need to rush. 

“Those involved are suspended so there is no need rush the investigation.

“Let me make it clear; government policies for those who are suspended is that they are suspended with pay and until such time whether the allegations are proven or not, then appropriate personnel action will be taken,” said the Minister.  

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Officer of L.T.A., Ta'atialeoitiiti Agnes Tutuvanu-Schwalger, confirmed these allegations have already been made known to the L.T.A. and an investigation was underway.

As reported earlier, documents leaked to the Samoa Observer show that the year of manufacture for the vehicles were changed from 2000 to 2005 so they could be registered on the L.T.A’s Road Transport Administration System (R.T.A.S.).  

One of the vehicles involved, according to documents obtained by the Sunday Samoan, is a Toyota Allion. 

On the P.S.V. vehicle inspection, the car is a 2003 model. But according to the R.T.A.S, it’s been amended to 2006. 

Both documents point to the same V.I.N. number.

During an earlier interview with Tutuvanu-Schwalger, she acknowledged the opportunity given to the L.T.A to comment.

But she said she cannot provide “any further details at this point until the investigation has been completed”. 

The C.E.O. assured the L.T.A. has in place rules and regulations which govern their staff and how they carry out their work. 

“Therefore, if these allegations are proven to be true then my staff involved will be dealt with accordingly.

“Honesty is one of L.T.A.’s core values and principles therefore L.T.A. endeavours to promote and enforce this for our Management (including me as C.E.O.) and our staff.” 

According to Tutuvanu-Schwalger, since the start of 2018, L.T.A. has been in the process of upgrading its Road Transport Administration System (R.T.A.S.). The system houses all the information about vehicles in Samoa. 

“Findings from this investigation will be used to improve the setup, operation, maintenance and security of the R.T.A.S.

“Furthermore, improvements to our current working procedures will be made based on findings from our investigation.

“Again, I on behalf of the L.T.A., encourage members of the public to contact our office for any matters that they would like to discuss and understand more.

“Comments and feedback from the public as well as our staff is crucial in improving L.T.A.’s service delivery.”

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