Govt's final meeting with Sogi family

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 04 December 2019, 6:00PM

The Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) has called their final meeting with families in Sogi to relocate from the area before the Government moves in to commence development works in the area.

Held last Friday, S.L.C's Chief Executive Officer, Ulugia Kavesi Petelo, said all of the remaining families have agreed to move except for the Tokuma family. 

“It was clear from their absence that they have not accepted the call to relocate,” Ulugia told the Samoa Observer. 

The C.E.O. explained there were about 20 families that attended the meeting and have agreed to move to government land in Tafaigata. 

“The meeting was to remind the families again of the deadline to relocate in December and by January everyone has done so. 

“Everyone that attended the meeting has agreed to it except for the Tokuma family and if they do not move the next step is to take them to Court.”

Asked for a comment, Aiga Tokuma, the youngest of Ulalemamae Lei'ataua and the late Turaroe Tokuma, of Solomon Islands children has made up her mind.

“If the other families want to move they are free to do so but we will stay here,” she said. 

“Our father’s blood was shed on this land and this is his sweat. No amount of money will compensate this land and we will stay here to protect it.”

Asked about the concerns from government that the area is a swamp and was not safe to live on, Ms. Tokuma said “its okay with us”. 

She pointed out the family has lived in the area for years and have not been affected by a tsunami since. 

The elderly mother agreed that the land is a swamp and said that was the reason why their ancestors were not buried there. 

“They have been buried on other lands but not here it’s a swamp,” she said. 

“But we are okay to live here. 

“If the government is saying its unsafe then why are putting other people’s lives at risk by building the market here? 

“Like I said all my life I have lived here and we will continue to stay here...we will wait for them [SL.C.]” 

There are about six households in the Tokuma family that still remain in Sogi with a total of about 60 people including children. 

The Tokuma family took the S.L.C. to Court claiming they own the family and have inherited the land from their ancestors. 

However the Court was not in favour of the claim from the family and dismissed the lawsuit from the family. 

The Court of Appeal also upheld the decision from the Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuit last year ordering the family to pay costs of $5000 to respondents. 

The C.E.O. of S.L.C. said the matter has been dragging on since 2018. 

He stressed the families living in the area have been given enough time to move. 

“Families have been given monetary assistance to assist them with their relocation,” he said

In terms of the monetary assistance, Ulugia declined to reveal how much is given to the families but only stated that the assistance is based on their assets. 

The C.E.O. added that the government has done all it can to ensure that the affected families are given the assistance they need to move. 

Some of the assistance include a free lease for a year on the lands the families will relocate to from January 2020 to December 2020. 

Some of the families that have already relocated to Falelauniu is Lauano Iona Filoi. 

According to the 75-year-old grandfather, he has lived in Sogi with his children some 20 years ago. 

Originally from Saleimoa and Lealatele Leauva’a, Launo said he moved to lease in Sogi at the time so he can put his children in school. 

“It is very convenient to live here for us especially taking my children to school and now grandchildren,” he said. 

“The government has other plans for the lands and I am thankful that we have been given another land to relocate to in Falelauniu. 

“I believe it is also for the best for my family because as you can see this area is a swamp and when the tie comes up can’t see the ground.”

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 04 December 2019, 6:00PM

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