Two sides to the story

By Marj Moore 16 May 2016, 12:00AM

There are always (at least) two sides to a story. 

And one of our front page news stories today has elements of that truth. 

The partial relocation of villagers of Solosolo to higher ground should not be simply placed under a headline of Climate Change although that has been the catalyst for many of the villagers to move.

And the Climate Change label, if you belong to one school of thought encompasses so much more including natural disasters such as tsunamis as well as global warming caused by increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels and of course the associated rising sea levels.

But for many years while Samoa has joined in the worldwide clamour about big countries harming the smaller vulnerable countries such as ourselves, our own citizens have been contributing to the problems with our actions.

As well as featuring news stories on the subject, this newspaper has commented a number of times about the huge trucks on the east coast road seen thundering towards Apia with their loads of beautiful, white sand mined from our beaches. In fact in 2011, former Cabinet Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Manualesagalala Enokati Posala denied allegations that a brick-making company run by his wife was mining sand illegally from Lotofaga, Safata.

Manualesagalala said there was nothing illegal about the operations and his company had a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment that allowed him to mine the sand. 

However villagers disagreed and said that the sandmining had seriously eroded the village’s natural beauty and landscape and caused the evacuation of families who lived close to the shoreline. 

One villager stood on the coastline and pointed to about 20 metres out to sea saying the village used to be there and there were homes built there. 

But the minister denied being responsible for the environment problem that was affecting the village blithely saying, global warming was affecting everyone.

As if that was reason enough not to be concerned. 

“We are not digging sand from inside the sea we are only taking what is on the coastline of Lotofaga,” he is reported to have said at the time.

This also raised the question of who polices the dredging to ensure the amount of sand taken matches that allowed on the permit?

And how much is too much?

And who decides that?

And what is that decision based on?

Have there been studies and research to assure us that altering a coastline by dredging and mining sand is a safe practice for those living nearby?

So sadly it seems that whilst we are pointing the finger at the larger, wealthier nations in this matter, and in fact receiving large grants of Climate Change money from them in what some say is guilt money, we ourselves are also contributing to the problems of our own eroding coastlines, endangered villages and the need to relocate.

By Marj Moore 16 May 2016, 12:00AM

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