Sogi families given more time to relocate

Families remaining at Sogi — where a new Government project is proposed to be built — have been given more time to vacate the land.

Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) Chief Executive Officer, Ulugia Kavesi Petelo, told the Samoa Observer in an email that the families have until December 31 this year. 

He revealed the deadline when responding to questions from this newspaper on the outcome of a meeting between the Corporation and the affected families on May 27 this year. 

“Sogi residents will relocate to Government land at Tafaigata to lease," he said and did not elaborate. 

In a previous interview with Ulugia on the issue, he made it clear that in the event that the families do not leave they will be taken to Court. 

“The families have been given many chances and if they refuse to leave the last option is to take it to Court,” he said back then. 

“S.L.C. has that power under the law and be mindful that they have been served with letters to vacate. We will meet for the last time on 27 May and we will go from there.” 

According to Ulugia there are more than 20 families still living at Sogi. 

Last month the Minister of Public Enterprises which also covers the Corporation, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, said the land at the center of the dispute will be used for the relocated Savalalo market. 

In 2011, the Government asked about 30 families who lived on Corporation-owned land in Sogi to leave the area, due to their vulnerability to sea level rising. They were given the option to relocate to a quarter acre land at Falelauniu, which they could lease to own for $30,000.

A number of families took the option. But others refused.

“The families that lived in Sogi have been living on those Government land for free for the past years they have been there,” said the Minister.

“The Government has been wanting to move ahead with its developments and now is the time to implement those developments and the lands are needed to do that.

“The families have been given support with options to relocate to and majority of the families have agreed to take that option.”

Lautafi said the Government is looking at about five acres for the market plan.

When asked why the Government is building a market at Sogi if it has been declared vulnerable to climate change, he said the decision was made for residents, not public projects.

The Minister also made reference to other Government developments at the peninsula in Mulinu’u, which includes the Parliament House and the Court House.

“Natural disasters and other natural changes to our climate cannot stop the Government from its developments,” he explained.

“So the Government cannot let those people live there knowing its unsafe but it can continue with its development and build a seawall or what is needed to mitigate the effects.

“If a tsunami comes tomorrow, we cannot prevent it and it is out of our control but we still have to make developments to service our people and utilise Government land.”   

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