An open letter to P.U.M.A

Dear Editor,

This letter is for the attention of the Planning and Urban Management Agency (P.U.M.A) and P.U.M.A officers whom like most Samoans read this newspaper. I have no other choice but to come publicly to voice my frustrations and concerns as a Samoan citizen who you and your office has failed miserably.

Since October 2015, I have referred my queries about a Chinese accommodation development, which had just started no less than 50 meters from my house at Lotopa. As any reasonable person would have done, I sought information from your office because I was concerned about how this development would impact on my family’s comfort in our own home (how would anybody feel standing at their bedroom window looking at a number of eight (8) toilet breathers lined up a stones throw away).

Your office advised that this development was illegal because the developer had no Development Consent. This was on or about December 2015. 

So you issued stop notices and visited the development a couple of times. And the developer continued regardless – ignoring your stop notices and your orders. And what did you do? Nothing – apart from stopping them for two weeks and then allowing them – through your inaction and failure – the time and opportunity to complete their construction!  

Months and months of following up with your office did me absolutely no good. I would contact you and leave messages that these workers were still hammering away – even on early mornings! I even reported that during my own mother’s funeral, the developers had no consideration whatsoever and continued to make all sorts of noise during my mother’s lotu at home. 

You would think that this would bring about some action on your part? Often enough I would sit at your office for hours to wait to talk to somebody only to find out that the key people who could deal with my complaint were either out on the field, attending meetings, workshops or off-island. 

It is likely easier to get an appointment to see the Minister than your officers. From the couple of meetings I did manage to get with you I had never been given a satisfactory answer to my queries – except more frustration, moments of anger and sleepless nights.

P.U.M.A - what is holding you back from exercising your power and putting a stop to the developers from doing any further work on the premises until we have reached a firm and final decision?

To people who know me I am not the sort of person who would vent out frustrations in such a public way BUT this is what your office and its failings has reduced me to. 

Every day is a struggle to be patient while right under our noses (literally) these developers continue as though there is nothing wrong and they have done nothing wrong. We can find no peace at home and while you yourselves are relaxing after a long day’s work in the comfort of your home – think about people like me and my family who are living with and will continue to live with the results of your failures and negligence each and every day.

So I plead with you again – P.U.M.A –

What have you done and what are you going to do????


Violine Betham


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