P.M. silent on Sogi plan

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 27 August 2016, 12:00AM

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, would not reveal his government’s plan for Sogi, saying the Samoa Observer already knew about it.

He said: “The plan was announced before, so I will not respond to any more questions on the topic.” 

Told that he did not say anything about what the government was planning to use the lands for; he disagreed. 

He said: “Go back and dig up the previous release from the government. 

“The Minister at the time has already explained it.” Asked which Minister he was referring to, Tuilaepa declined to give any more details. 

“That is my answer, go back to release by government in the past. It should be in your previous publications.”

Last week, Tuilaepa made it clear that the government will not change its mind in relocating the residents of Sogi. 

He added that the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) has been directed by Cabinet to deal with the last remaining residents in the area. 

In a recent interview with the S.L.C. Chief Executive Officer, Ulugia Petelo Kavesi he denied rumours about government development in the area. 

“I have no knowledge on that issue so I have no comment to make,” said Ulugia.

In 2009, the Siva Afi company was forcefully evicted from leased public land at Sogi by the government. 

That land currently houses the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi six storey building consisting of a conventional center at the back and a garage on the side. 

At the time, Siva Afi owner, Leota Lene took the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to Court. 

Leota accused the government for not honouring a lease agreement where they were evicted prior to the expiry date of their lease. 

His company leased the land in 2006 for 20 years with a right of renewal.

The dispute went a step further when the government amended the Taking of Land Act in October 2009 in order to evict Siva Afi from Sogi on 16th November 2009. 

The proposed change was tabled by the then Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga. 

The bill gave government the power to take over for public purposes public land and freehold land. It also gives the power to the M.N.R.E. Minister to make an offer of compensation for land and to setup a procedure for its acquisition if the offer is not made or is refused. 

Any debt relating to the land or estate or interest in the land owed the government or public body may be subtracted from the compensation sum. 

At the time, Siva Afi was offered a total compensation of $462,000 which the business rejected. 

In a decision on July 2013, the Supreme Court awarded Siva Afi compensation of $748,186.15

Leota later filed an appeal heard in November 2012 in the Court of Appeal. 

A decision was delivered on December 2012 in which a final payment out of $1, 769, 332.90 was awarded to Siva Afi.

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 27 August 2016, 12:00AM

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