Police called, workers allegedly threatened

The Police were called to Satapuala yesterday after an incident where Samoa Airport Authority (S.A.A.) workers were allegedly threatened.

The alleged incident occurred when the workers turned up to start pulling down the homes of several families to make way for the extension of the Faleolo Airport International runway.

The families had opposed an order by the Government to relocate.

The S.A.A. Chief Executive Officer, Magele Hoe Viali, did not return telephone calls from the Samoa Observer. 

But a staff member who does not have authority to speak to the media confirmed the incident.

He said they were instructed to pull down the residences that remained on the construction site.

“While working several men who own the residence appeared with a machete and we called the Police for assistance,” he said. 

“The men have since left.”

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When this newspaper visited the construction site, the Police and some chiefs of the community were seen standing outside the gate, as S.A.A. workers inside the fenced off area pulled down the remaining houses. 

The Government and the residents have been at loggerheads over the airport runway construction, which the Government claims is land that it owns, after an agreement was signed with the Satapuala village council 35 years ago. 

Satapuala village mayor, Vaili Mimita, told this newspaper last week that the families were advised that they need to relocate. 

“We will level penalties (against) anyone who interferes with the ongoing project,” he said.

The affected families refused to comment when approached by this newspaper. 

The Tauvalaau family of Satapuala is among the affected families who are refusing to relocate.

Early this year Tuaato Tauvalau Salausa of Satapuala told this newspaper the Government owes them $1 million and they will not leave their family land. 

“This is where I was born and grew up and I cannot fathom how the Samoan Government can just hand out only $34,000 to my daughter, yet our family land is worth far more than the lousy money they gave us."

“I live in American Samoa and prior to moving back in 2005, I had my daughter stay here at our land."

“I was only informed that my daughter accepted the $34,000. That is not enough to compensate the value of our land. How can the Samoa Government pay us peanuts?”  

It was not possible to get a comment from the Police yesterday.

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