Village asks Govt. for $5.5 million for airport

The Ti’avea village Council wants the Government to pay $5.58 million for 23 acres of land to build the country’s newest airport. 

The decision was confirmed by the Ti’avea’s Village Mayor, Sola Si’uele Seiuli, in an interview with the Samoa Observer at his residence yesterday afternoon.  

The $3.5 million contract for the proposed airport has been awarded to Aldan Civil Engineering Company Limited, a company owned by Associate Minister Peseta Vaifou Tevaga and his family. 

The village mayor said the highest offer made by the Government is $30 per square meter but the village wants double that. 

“We have already relayed to the Government how much we want and that’s $60 per square meter. 

“And we are still negotiating the price, as there are nine families involved, while the Village Council is negotiating the deal,” he said. 

Asked whether the land will be leased, Sola said most of the families do not want to lease their land, and would rather the Government made an outright purchase. 

“We have yet to finalise the decision. There are nine families and the village who plays a vital role in negotiating the deal and we are the 10th party to the matter. The families have agreed to allow the Government to start the project.”

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Asked whether the land in question is customary or privately owned, he said the land is owned by the families. 

“However, under the Land Taking Act, the Government can compensate the families for these customary lands for the developments, which of course benefits everyone,” he added.  

While work on the ground looked promising when the project was first announced, the villagers abruptly pulled out. 

Sola yesterday clarified that the initial project agreement was for land that did not have any residents, but the Government later changed its mind, causing a delay in the project. 

“Last year the village agreed to build the airport on a specific area where there were no families residing and that agreement was signed between the parties. 

“However, the Government changed its mind and asked for a specific area, where the project is now underway. That’s why there was a delay in the process.”

Sola gave the assurance that all the families involved have given their blessings for the airport project to go ahead. 

The Samoa Observer visited four of the nine families – who are parties to the deal – but they refused to comment and instead referred this newspaper to the Village Mayor. 

“We also want to thank the Government for having a major development project in Ti’avea and this is our way to assist the Government, is to allow them to build an airport on our lands,” he added.  

As reported earlier, the Ti’avea airport in Ti’avea is 1000 meters long and is of the same length as the Fagali’i Airport. The construction of the runway will take up to four months to complete.

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