$600,000 Vaiaata prison project gets underway

The Government will build a new prison facility at Vaia’ata, Savai'i to house 100 prisoners and a new administration building at a total cost of $600,000.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new prison project was held in Savai'i today, with the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi confirming the project and its associated cost in his weekly media program while travelling on a ferry from Savai'i this afternoon.

“The funds have already been approved in the last financial year and I want to commend the foresight of the Minister Tialavea (Tionisio Hunt) for pushing through this important project.

“The current prison houses 40 prisoners however with the new prison it is able to house 100 inmates,” he said.

The Prime Minister then acknowledged that the issue with having a new prison facility is that the prisoners refuse to leave the premises. 

“They end up reoffending to remain inside the jail, due to the congeniality of the facility – that is what’s happening at Tafaigata.” 

Tuilaepa also pointed out that the Ministry of Prisons and Correction Services are able to utilize the facility. 

According to the Prime Minister, the prisoners are also expanding their plantation to ensure there is sustainability into the future. 

Last year Tialavea told the Samoa Observer that the prison house at Vaiaata looked like a "family house" with barred windows and a door. 

“It’s not your typical prison house and quite frankly I don’t think any other prison in the world looks like the one we have in Savai'i. We need to upgrade the prison facilities that house the prisoners. 

The prison house that exists right now is overcrowded with the 40 prisoners serving time in Vaiaata, hence why we are planning to build a prison building block similar to the ones being built at Tanumalala,” he added.

The Government plans to build a prison block with a capacity to house 100 prisoners and a new administration office building. The old administration building will be developed into a living quarters for the Police officers and the open fale will be turned into a chapel. 

Other developments at Vaiaata include; cocoa, taro and banana plantations. When harvested, these crops will cater for all three prisons – Tanumalala, Oloamanu and Vaiaata. 

The banana and taro crops are intended for export. However, if there’s not enough food supply for the three prisons, then the taro will not be exported. Revenue generated from these exported crops help boost the food budget for all three prison facilities.

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