Airport appeals to family to remove house, grave

The Samoa Airports Authority (S.A.A.) has appealed to the family of Taua Fa’apusa to remove their house and a grave, which lies inside the boundary of the Government’s new $14 million Ti’avea Airport. 

The appeal is contained in a letter from the S.A.A. Chief Executive Officer, Silimana’i Ueta Solomona, to the Village Mayor of Ti’avea, Sola Seiuli and Ti’avea Airport Project Committee High Chief, Tuiavi’i Taua Lome. 

“For your information, $30,000 has already been paid for the house and [removal of] grave,” a translation of the letter, dated 6 March 2020, reads. 

The C.E.O. said he was saddened the funds have already been paid to the family and it appears the plea to remove the house will not be heeded by the family. 

“We humbly request to work together to sort out this problem. We have been asking him for years to remove his house and the grave but he does not care."

Silimana’i urged the Village Mayor and High Chief to inform the family to remove their house and allow the contractors to clear the area for the airport development. 

He said the contract for the project concludes on 31 March 2020 and they are urged to remove the house immediately as the contractor will be working in that specific area on 20 March 2020. 

“There will be ramifications against Taua under the law if he does not heed the request,” said Silimana’i. 

Efforts to get comments from Mr. Taua and the Village Council were not successful. 

When the Samoa Observer visite, the Taua family declined to comment. 

Last year a memorandum of agreement was signed between the Government and the Ti’avea Village Council for compensation for the 26 acres of land belonging to Ti’avea families at a cost to Government of $4 million.  

In addition to the memorandum of agreement, the parties also signed a deed of settlement between the Government and the families who gave up their land for the airport. According to a press statement, there are 11 portions of land involved in the agreement. 

Last month, the Government had to alter the original design of the Ti'avea Airport due to remonstrations from villagers.

As a result, a $3 million variation was approved by the Tenders Board to accommodate the alteration. 

“The villagers started to interfere with works and so it [runway] had to be shifted further down land,” the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, Papali'i Niko Lee Hang, said during an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

“Other families [who own land further down the runway] were consulted and agreed [to clear the land] so there is no more interruption with works. The Government works cannot be stopped.” 

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