Ti’avea villagers appeal for footpaths

Ti’avea village residents have appealed to the Government to build footpaths on the side of the road after a 4-year-old girl was hit by a vehicle on Sunday and died on her way to hospital.

The death of Maryanna Valiano on Sunday has put the spotlight on the road and the noted absence of a footpath, which has led to children and villagers walking on the main road, often unaware of oncoming traffic. 

Village mayor for Ti’avea, Seiuli Sio Paepae, told the Samoa Observer that child road safety in rural communities should translate to the building of pedestrian footpaths. 

“Not just our village but also other villages here in the rural areas because as everyone knows, our villages have very narrow roads and the sides are also rarely fittable for one person,” he said.

“And if you look at it, this is not the only case like these that has happened and it’s very sad because it’s mostly our children that is being taken away by such accidents and not us.”

An 67-year-old matai in Ti’avea, Tolu Iona Maiava, said there were several accidents prior to Maryanna's death on Sunday and the lack of proper footpaths had always been a concern for the villagers. 

“For us parents, we’ve always been threatened by the fact that our children have to cross the main road like that every day, and even though we send an adult to send them, it’s still unsafe until there’s a footpath,” he said.

The matai expressed concern that most children in rural communities assume that roads in villages such as Ti’avea do not have a lot of traffic.

A Tiavea resident and a mother of three children, who did not want to be identified, appealed to the authorities to make the road safe for children after Maryanna's death.

"To me, there should be a footpath in such roads like these, especially because not only our there are a lot of children roaming around,” she said.

“But if you see where the poor little girl passed away at, it's merely a walk-path for people on the road.”

A 26-year-old mother who lives in Ti’avea, Maria Akenese, said a boy was hit on the same road by a car last year and always walks between her children's school and home to ensure they are safe. 

“And now that this happened, I shall say that there really should be some footpaths on the sides of the road to protect, especially our children from the dangerous driving and especially since the road as you can see is very narrow,” she said. 

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