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Lalovaea village representative slams curfew

A Lalovaea village representative has questioned a village council-imposed curfew which includes the blocking of public access to a road.

Peseta Demetrius Fogaseuga Taofiga told the Samoa Observer that the road is a public asset and its access should not be blocked.

He said other villages that impose curfews do not allow vehicles to turn into homes but it is different at Lalovaea where there is no road access. 

“I have noticed that other villages that do curfews do not allow the cars to turn into the homes but these people who call themselves village representatives are blocking the road.

“If you compare curfews done by other villages, people stand in front of people’s houses but chains are used to stop cars - chains are only used to lock cattle or cows; they are treating us like a cattle farm, as if we are people who have no brains.

“They should not have used these methods to block the road but just stand and guard in front of the houses. Another thing is Lalovaea is not a nu’u mavae (a village that does not have honorifics), then who are these people that do these curfews,” he said.

But when this newspaper contacted Lalovaeae village mayor, Tala’itaua Kelekolio Ah – Lin, he said the decision to impose a curfew in the village was not a unilateral decision. 

He said the decision was made by village chiefs and representatives to impose the curfew and the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) was consulted and a letter from the Ministry was given to the Court for its approval to impose the curfew. 

“In return we received documented papers as proof from court which we all signed and because in terms of any court cases, these documents will bear witness and also we were told to advertise it publicly and so it has been going onto four months since we have started.

“The road which everyone has to access in order to get into the village is through this road where we have our curfew, the main road is Government road but once you turn into a village, that goes into effect with the curfew,” Tala’itaua said.

However, Peseta is adamant that the curfew and its blocking of the road access is abuse of people’s rights to access a public road.

“I even contacted the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, and they told me that I have to submit a letter pertaining what the issue is and to bring the village representative to consult.

“But blocking the road is illegal but I do not blame the Government for this, I think this is a misrepresentation of the Government or the misinformed on the village mayor’s part.

“I also spoke with the police when I contacted them about the issue, they said that the village curfew was given permission by the MWCSD this was said by Lalovaea representatives,” he added.

When asked what he thought about some residents supporting and backing the curfew as a good sign to maintain the law, Peseta said it is not making any difference as crimes like theft continue to occur in their neighbourhood. 

But in a bid to defend the decision to impose the curfew, Tala’itaua they were forced to act due to safety concerns following incidences where reckless drivers drove over safety cones. 

“Before we used cones but what happened was, cars ran over the cones twice and we feared for the safety of those guarding the roads which is why we resulted to these actions.

“It is all for the safety of everyone but also we make exceptions for emergencies – we have curfews at 7:30pm every day.

“Lalovaea is a nu’u mavae but since this part of Lalovaea sasa’e (east) is registered under Vaisolo i Sasa’e which I am a village mayor of that is part of Vaimauga.”

Attempts by this newspaper to get comments from the Police and the MWCSD were unsuccessful.

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