P.M. leads govt.'s fire response

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi met with key government officials yesterday over the fire that demolished the Savalalo Flea Market on Saturday.

The meeting was to co-ordinate a course of action in response to the destruction.

"I am relieved to know that there was no loss of life, and there are no reports of anyone being seriously hurt from the fire,” Tuilaepa is quoted as saying in a statement issued by his Office yesterday.

"This is still a busy time for our flea market vendors so I sympathise with all of those who have suffered losses because of this unfortunate incident."

"We are urgently looking into what caused this fire, and also looking at the best way forward for small business owners who are now facing a tougher start to this new year."

"I've asked key government agencies to report back to me before the end of today, with updates on what caused the fire, what we are facing in terms of damage, their assessments and recommendations on the kinds of possible assistance for the future of all small business operators affected by the fire.”

Asked about interim solutions for these small businesses, the Prime Minister confirmed that there are several options under consideration by government.

These include a possible relocation of flea-market stalls and shops to the under-utilised Vaitele Market; or an option to set up large tents, which had been used when Samoa hosted the U.N S.I.D.S conference, to accommodate the vendors.

"It's important that we quickly find ways to help these small businesses, because they represent the livelihoods of so many families, not forgetting the important service they provide to support our tourism industry which is our economic mainstay," said Tuilaepa.   

The Prime Minister also confirmed that government would be looking to the Fire and Emergency Services Authority for guidance on how to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Lead by the Prime Minister, the taskforce includes: the Minister of Police; Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure; Minister of Natural Resources and Environment; with Chief Executive Officers of Finance (M.O.F), Land Transport Authority (L.T.A), Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C), Foreign Affairs (M.F.A.T), Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C), Works, Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I); and Commissioners of Police and Fire and Emergency Services Authority.

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