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Ministry explains rational behind drone ban

The Ministry of Works Transport and Infrastructure (M.W.T.I.) had banned all drones from flying over all Pacific Games venues upon the request of the Pacific Games Organising Committee.

The ban was announced in public notices that were published in the media last week, which stated that airspace in Samoa can be restricted to enable an operation to start. 

“The Pacific Games Organising Committee had requested the M.W.T.I – as the Civil Aviation Authority for Samoa – for exclusive rights for M.M.G. (Melanesia Media Group) to operate only its drone in the S.P.G. games sites,” said M.W.T.I. Chief Executive Officer, Magele Hoe Viali. 

The M.W.T.I. issued a public notice banning all remote pilot aircraft or drone operators that the operations of drones at the South Pacific Games (S.P.G.) venues are strictly prohibited.

“The Ministry has granted sole approval to Melanesian Media Group (MMG) to operate at the respective SPG venues.

“Offenders will be charged and prosecuted pursuant to the Samoa Civil Aviation Act 1998.

“We urge the public to report without delay any unauthorised drone operations to the Ministry of Works, Transport & Infrastructure (21611), the Samoa Airport Authority (23201) and/or the Ministry of Police (22222).” 

The Samoa Observer questioned the legal grounds under the Act which were cited by the C.E.O. to restrict access to the M.M.G. 

“As the Government of Samoa is the host of the S.P.G. Games, the M.W.T.I as a Government Ministry has an obligation to facilitate the arrangements put in place by our S.P.G. Organising Committee.  

“That is why the M.W.T.I. had prohibited the operations of non-M.M.G. drones in the immediate airspace surrounding the games sites.

“I cannot be more specific than that as our Ministry regulates and license drone operations in Samoa.” 

The C.E.O. further added their approval, which has been granted in response to a request from the Pacific Games Organising Committee, should enable them to issue a public notice over the access of drones on the venues. 

“Only when a Representative of the Organising Committee had contacted the M.W.T.I for its assistance due to the dangers posed to the M.M.G.’s drones that we had aired our public notices. 

“Restricted usage airspace had been used in the past for the three Survivor Series that were filmed in Samoa, prohibiting drones and aircraft in specific areas of Samoa where filming of these survivor series had taken place.” 

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