Street addresses launched, now let’s make sure they stay

When it comes to locating businesses, residential homes and properties in Samoa, everyone has an experience to share about how they deal with directions – or the lack of it.

Truth be told, it has been one of those oddities we hardly really think about on these shores. And yet it is ironic because for such a small country, finding your way around can be quite a challenge.

You can only point people to so many mango, breadfruit and coconut trees before they get lost. Other classic tales feature the brightest of houses and counting the number of dogs barking on the front lawn just to be doubly sure you are at the right location.

We’re not kidding; this is how Samoans have been giving directions as far back as we can remember. Which worked back in those days. Times of course have changed and with a number of residential and commercial developments, the need for more precise directions to find certain locations became very apparent.

And so began the discussion about the need for street addresses.

At the beginning of last year, a Real Estate Agent, Failo Crichton, hammered the point home when he spoke to your newspaper about the challenges his industry was facing. He said many local property owners wanted to sell and register their properties with global real estate firms but couldn’t do so due to the absence of proper street addresses.

For instance, as a Ray White Real Estate Agent, he said the Australian company was absolutely adamant about the need for proper addresses. Mr. Crichton said most of his clients are Samoans living abroad trying to sell their parents' or family member’s properties or land but were restricted by the problem.

 “The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment lists all the lots, and it’s not that hard to put a number to it, it takes a bit of common sense,” he said.

“It’s about identifying the person, and it’s the same all over the world, where there could be another John Smith who lives next door.

He also argued that the tourism sector would benefit if tourists could use street addresses to find accommodation and tourist attractions. He pointed to the growing popularity of Air Bnb where most of the clients are from overseas who are used to finding a street address.

 “Can you imagine going to a totally different country and there are no street address, and you are relying on Tom, Dick and Harry to tell you to get to the first coconut tree and turn left to get to the house?” he said. “That is so dumb."

We couldn’t agree more. Which is why we are delighted with the “Street and Residential Address Naming Project” officially launched in Apia last week.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone. It makes Samoa look like a progressive country and it would also make life easier not just for visitors but also for all of us living in this country.

The reality is that we might know where Vaitele is but trying to find a house in Vaitele-uta or Vaitele-fou is another story altogether. The same goes for Vailele and Vailele-uta, Siusega and so many other villages.

In launching the project, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi acknowledged that Samoa’s urban population has grown rapidly over the years. Coupled with new infrastructural developments in urban areas, the decision to launch the project could not have been done at a better time.

“As Apia City continues to expand in development, identifying location of government and private sector services will no doubt be a challenge in future,” Tuilaepa said.

“Further, as ICT infrastructure continues to grow and opening up more opportunities for online business; pinpointing relevant locations and business addresses in Samoa will be a struggle.

“This is not ideal for the country going forward and especially for effective and timely delivery of emergency response, and humanitarian assistance to our people when disasters strike.

“It is therefore the responsibility of government to address these challenges and to ensure that all streets and location of public services, businesses and residences are easily identified.”

Well we couldn’t agree more with Prime Minister Tuilaepa and the Government on this matter.

But there is one other issue we want to point out. From what we have seen in other villages where the Government had erected street signs and village names, some of our people seem to have an affinity to vandalise and take the sign posts home for their cook houses. The Government needs to think of a way to ensure that when these signs are installed that they stay there.

Have a beautiful week Samoa, God bless!



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