Police to enforce explosives ban

No explosives will be imported into Samoa except for Government projects due to the high risk to public safety, says Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil.

The Commissioner confirmed he will oversee a ban on issuing explosives permits for private sector only projects. Industrial explosives are sometimes used for civil engineering, construction or mining projects. 

The Commissioner revealed the Government's tough stance at a press conference held on the Laws, Policies and Process for the Importation and Procedures for Usage of Explosives in Samoa.

He explained that such dangerous goods (pomu/faga i'a/mea fa'apapa) require a tight regulation because of the dangers it poses to the members of the public.

"[Explosives] can cause a lot of damage, so we have to be very careful with these things coming into Samoa, so the only time it can be issued by the Commissioner of Police, is when it is from the Government; [when] it is for a Government project," he said.

"So not anyone can request other than the Government who needs these explosives, unless it is a project of the Government’s."

Processes to get a permit includes going through Fire Emergency Services Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Works, Transportation and Infrastructure as well as the Cabinet, said Fuiavailiili.

He gave an example of when the airport was under construction and needed a lot of gravel for the tarmac, saying the Cabinet's approval of the project was essential for the Commissioner to sign a permit allowing the explosives to be brought in.

"For instance, we have to consult F.E.S.A., we have to know exactly what is coming into our country," he said.

"What’s the content, how much it weighs, what’s the capacity, what’s the potential, how long can we use it for whether there will be some left overs. There are a lot of questions I ask before I even sign this thing."

"We need to go into these things with both eyes open in case something goes wrong; we’re not dealing with firearms, one projectile, you’re talking about a bomb.

"If it gets into the wrong hands, it worries me."

He explained that, as the Police, they do not only look at the project and sign the permit, but also considering deeper issues. 

"Signing the permit is easy but there is a lot of work that goes into after that," said Fuiavailiili.

"We have to ensure storage is good and that it is secure. We have to go and double check, with security and cameras and fences and security on watch and transportation from the wharf."

He stated that most of those who request to bring in explosives are big companies, especially those working on road constructions and such, saying it all has to go through Cabinet.

Commissioner assured that they also have monitoring systems in place for the use of explosives coming in.

"We have to ensure storage is good and that it is secure. We have to go and double check, with security and cameras and fences and security on watch and transportation from the wharf.

"Makes sure when these are brought in Samoa, it has to be for that site. Anywhere outside of that particular detail, is a no. 

"We have a very strict, very careful and very deliberate process before issuing licence."

The penalty for bringing in explosives without a permit includes up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $20,000.

The Police Commissioner reminded that fireworks "are illegal too, unless there is a permit."

"You have to go through the Commissioner [and] we need to know all the little details before we can issue a permit as well,” he said. 

Section 14 of the Arms Ordinance 1960 states that a person who procures or attempts to procure or conspires to procure the possession of any explosive, by way of trespass or otherwise, without lawful right or title thereto, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 50 penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or both.

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