Ministry issues stop order
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has issued an order stopping the quarrying of an area at Tafua on Savai’i, where a recent landslide killed three people.
M.N.R.E. Chief Executive Officer, Ulu Bismarck Crawley, told Samoa Observer that the order was issued after they received reports that people had returned to the site and were quarrying.
“Safety is paramount to the M.N.R.E. and the stop order was issued following reports from the village there is active quarrying in this specific area,” he said.
He said he was puzzled as to why people in the area disregarded the recent incident and the fatalities, and had returned to the site despite public safety concerns.
“The preliminary reports from our team that conducted the assessment indicated the landslide occurred due to human-induced activities, in this case quarrying,” he said.
Ulu then emphasised the importance of developers obtaining a development consent permit and issued a warning to local businesses.
“We will not hesitate to take the matter to the court if people continue to defy the law. Sometimes people tell us, it’s their land which is true."
“However, the Government can interfere when the safety of the public is at risk hence the development consent permit is important for every development project,” he said.
Ulu said under the law it is a requirement that the Ministry’s Planning and Urban Management Agency (P.U.M.A.), conduct an assessment of the proposed project site prior to the issuing of a permit
“We consider the environment in any development consent permit and in this specific case, we assess whether this is safe for quarrying among other things."
“We don’t just issue a development consent permit, a thorough assessment must be conducted, to avoid situations as the current one,” he said.
For a site that a developer proposes to quarry, Ulu said the P.U.M.A. assessment will give the permissible quantity of soil that can be extracted from the site.