Ministry says it will decide whether to distribute boots

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) reserves its right not to distribute working boots that appear to be of poor quality.

That is the response of the MAC Assistant CEO, Maoi'autele Brigitta Fa'afiti-Lo Tam, following concerns that some of the heavy duty boots donated by Australian policewoman Jo Mikarna were worse for wear.

Some officers in Government agencies contacted the Samoa Observer to raise concerns at the "deplorable condition of some boots", which were part of the 4000 heavy duty boots that Ms. Mikarna donated last month. 

The officers said: “Some shoes don’t have pairs, some shoes are in terrible condition, but some shoes are in great condition!"

But Ms. Mikarna, who is a frequent visitor to Samoa, said she was disappointed to hear their concerns after a month. 

“I’m shocked at the boots captured in this photo. The 4000 pairs of boots and shoes handed over to the Minister for Agriculture were second hand but in good condition.

“The boots in this photo are worn through and would therefore, not have passed the quality-controlled standards we had here in Australia,” she said, and added they wouldn’t have met the shipment standards for Samoa.

“I would not willingly and intentionally include boots or shoes not fit for wear. It’s a waste of space in the container not to mention a waste of money to send them to Samoa. It just doesn’t make sense.”

She then questioned why no one brought the matter to her attention while she was still in Samoa. 

“I hadn’t been approached or questioned at the time of packing, storing and distribution of the shoes whilst I was in Samoa for three weeks. Why has it come to light now four weeks later? Why didn’t anyone question me on the condition of the shoes while I was in Samoa,” she added. 

Despite the concerns of the quality of some of the boots, Maoi'autele said they are thankful to the Australian policewoman for giving 500 pairs of work trousers to MAF for farmers.

“We are thankful that people within our region take the time to think of the people of Samoa, and donate what they can to our people. The Ministry is pleased to be able to participate in assisting the donor, to get the donated boots out to our rural communities. 

“We intend to distribute the boots to villages who are participating in the Rhinoceros Beetle Sanitation program. Under this program the Ministry has been working with farmers and villages, to ensure a sustainable future for our coconut and related industries.

“These boots will complement the efforts of the Ministry in working with our communities, as we have previously distributed chainsaws to 89 villages thus far, identified as being affected by the Rhinoceros Beetle," she added. 

Maoi'autele confirmed that the boots underwent the usual quarantine process to ensure the container containing them was fumigated. 

“The Ministry has sighted all the donated items, and has reserved in its discretion to withhold from distribution, any boots that appear of low quality, and shall adhere to Government policies regarding disposal of gifts/donations,” she added. 

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