Govt. refuses to pay $5.58 million for Ti’avea land
The Government has baulked at Ti’avea Village Council’s $5.58 million price tag for 23 acres of land to build the country’s newest airport.
Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, told Samoa Observer that the Government will not pay $5.58 million and the project could be cancelled if the village continued to push that price tag.
“The amount Ti’avea wants is way too much and out of our budget. They stand to benefit from this airport with the developments in their village yet what they want a ridiculous… that is not going to happen. The Government will not pay that amount, might as well not build that airport,” he said.
Last month, Ti’avea’s Village Mayor, Sola Si’uele Seiuli told this newspaper that the Government is offering $30 per square meter. But the families from the village, who are offering their land for the proposed airport, want $60 per square meter.
But Papali’i yesterday appealed to the villagers to consider the offer by the Government, as he claimed that they stand to be the long-term beneficiaries of such a project.
“The village should also consider the offer by the Government, it is better to get something than nothing,” he said.
Sola told this newspaper last month that the land will not be leased to the Government, as most of the affected families wanted an outright purchase.
“Most of the families do not want to lease their land, and would rather the Government made an outright purchase."
“There are nine families and the village who plays a vital role in negotiating the deal and we are the 10th party to the matter. The families have agreed to allow the Government to start the project,” he said.
The site of the proposed airport is on customary land, which the Government can get using provisions of the Land Taking Act and compensate the affected families.
As reported earlier, the Ti’avea airport in Ti’avea is 1000 meters long and is of the same length as the Fagali’i Airport. The construction of the runway will take up to four months to complete.