Govt. admits $5.7m failure
The $5.7million market at Vaitele once described as a “gold mine” by the former Minister of Finance, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, has been tendered out for businesses.
The government is looking for someone to develop it.
It is a last desperate attempt from the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C) to recover the money spent on the multimillion-tala project opened in 2011.
The decision was confirmed by the Minister of Public Enterprises, LautafiSelafi Purcell.
He admitted the empty market space was not generating any money.
“It’s being advertised and opened to be used for businesses because the market is not functioning,” Lautafi told the Sunday Samoan.
“We have enough markets in villages and on the roadsides and people don’t need to come here."
“We all know (the market) is not strategically placed for our people who like to jump out of the car and get back in without having to walk distance.”
According to Lautafi, some businesses have already expressed interest.
He wouldn’t say who they are pointing out that the tender process is yet to be completed.
The winner of the tender should be announced next month.
As for the few farmers still using the market, Lautafi said they would have a space setup on the side for them.
“They shouldn’t expect to use the whole market space.It’s not viable and I’m sure the businesses (tendered) will come up with much better use of space and return for government leasing land.”
Lautafi added that he is also looking at similar situation for the market at Salelologa.
Although there are much more people selling at Salelologa compared to Vaitele, the Minister said it is only on Saturdays when the market is busy.
While the top floor has been occupied by government offices the plan for the bottom floor is to half the space so that the other side can be used commercially and the other to sell handicrafts.
Back in 2011, the Minister of Finance, then FaumuinaTiatiaLiuga, cut the ribbon to officially open the facility.
“The colour of the ribbon – gold – best describes this new market. This will be a goldmine for this country,” he said then.
Prime Minister TuilaepaSa’ileleMalielegaoi hailed the project at the time.
“The market will serve this side of the capital and Upolu. It should also immediately result in the easing of traffic through Fugalei (market), easing of the pressures and demands on the main market there and the over-crowdedness we’ve become all too familiar with through the years,” he said.
“It’s not just farmers who will take advantage of this new facility, those who want to go into small business enterprise will too.”
But Tuilaepa and Faumuina’s dream has failed.
The market has remained largely empty except for one side where there are pool tables.