Government asks China for robot sniffer dogs
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi's administration has asked China for robot sniffer dogs as concerns continue to grow over American Samoa's drugs crisis.
The Ministry of Revenue has put in the request to the Chinese government, saying the canine machines will assist Samoa with its border control.
Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed the Government's request to China during an interview with the Samoa Observer.
“These are efforts to combat drugs being smuggled into the country from American Samoa," Tialavea said.
"As I said before, there is a growing presence of methamphetamine commonly known as ice. If you follow the drug problem in American Samoa, it is very concerning and we have to be one step ahead and gear up to fight off this problem."
The canine robot will cost US$600,000 ($1.5 million tala).
"We don’t have that kind of money, hence requesting to get it through aid from China and we hope the request will be considered,” he added.
Tialavea said Samoa's border control currently has sniffer two dogs but with the increasing drug issues in the Pacific, there is a need for more.
The dogs are currently based at the airport, but not all the time as they should also be rested.
“It is not logical to have the canines working one shift after another, they are just like humans, they need their rest.
“It cost $200,000 tala for one canine and with the robots costing more than a million, we hope that our request will be granted by the Chinese government."
Meanwhile, ice with a street value of US$1 million ($2.5 million tala) was discovered in a package last month at the Fagatoga Post Office in American Samoa.
It was subsequently seized by the territory's Department of Public Safety.
It was not possible to get a comment from the Chinese Embassy at press time.