Savai'i voter questions timing of Govt. project launching
The Government's recent commissioning of a new $600,000 prison prison facility at Vaia’ata, Savai'i has come under scrutiny.
An elderly woman of Fogapoa who voted in the recent by-election, Fa’alagilagi Polu, said the timing of the Government's announcement on the eve of the polling in Savai'i was suspect.
She said the project's launching on the eve of polling made the event look like it was politically motivated.
“I guess this is nothing new, over the years this is what’s been happening. And while we are thankful of the Government’s assistance in the villages, the timing of this ground breaking is a bit funny, considering that the election was done the next day.
“I am not against it (project), just ironic to have it the day before the by-election, it leaves the trail this is politically motivated,” she told the Samoa Observer in an interview.
The new prison project, which was launched by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who led a Government delegation to the island that included seven Cabinet Ministers. They comprised Papalii Unasa Niko Lee Hang (Minister of Works and Infrastructure), Sili Epa Tuioti (Finance Minister), Tialavea Fea Leniu Tionisio Hunt (Prison Minister), Tuitama Dr. Talalelei Tuitama (Health Minister), Sala Fata Pinati (Tourism Minister) and Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell (Public Enterprise Minister).
Nevertheless Fa’alagilagi said the prison at Vaiaata should be upgraded as the facility's current state made it look like a "kitchen house".
The use of new electoral laws – which made it mandatory for all registered voters to return to their villages to vote – also came under criticism with the elderly voter saying it was an expensive exercise for families.
“We applaud the Government conducting every effort to ensure the election is not rigged, however, please consider the fact that it is very expensive.
"I have seen my families having to bring their children from Apia on the ferry, these mothers don’t have babysitters, most of them are housewives and therefore, they stay home to tend to their children daily and to bring all those kids to Savai'i is quite expensive,” she said.
The Prime Minister, at the commissioning of the new prison project last Thursday, said the prison facility will house 100 prisoners and a new administration building at a total cost of $600,000.