P.M., Gagaifomauga No. 3 discuss land survey
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, met with a delegation of matai from Gagaifomauga No. 3 last Monday to discuss a proposal to survey their customary lands.
The meeting was confirmed by the Mayor of Aopo, Mailata Tavita, who said the meeting at the Prime Minister's office was attended by representatives from Letui, Sasina, Fagae’e, and Aopo.
Tuilaepa has taken over as the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, after former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who held the ministerial portfolio, resigned last month.
According to Mailata, the main purpose of the meeting was to reaffirm a way forward in terms of confirming the boundaries for the villages in their district. He claimed that the delegation included ten matai from Aopo, ten from Sasina, five from Fagaee and five from Letui.
“An advertisement on who will survey the boundaries will be publicised soon,” said Mailata. “You might be aware that there is a lot of land [in the district] but there are no boundaries to know which land belongs to which [village] and this will confirm all of that.”
Furthermore, he said the surveying of customary land boundaries for the villages has been a long overdue project.
Mailata said because there are no defined boundaries for the district, they are unable to stop illegal logging from companies that are cutting down trees in the area.
“People continue to cut down trees and we have no way of knowing which boundary it falls under,” he said.
Asked about a Land and Titles Court matter concerning the customary lands in the district, Mailata said that has been ruled upon.
“The decision from the Court is all part of this [land survey],” he said. “There are no disputes within the district we are living in peace. All the district is asking for is to survey the lands so we can confirm the boundaries.”
It was not possible to get a comment from other matai of the villages who attended the meeting with the Prime Minister.
The village of Aopo had initially met with the Prime Minister in July to discuss their concerns with the boundaries in the district.
In that meeting, Tuilaepa said Aopo had also announced their support for the Land and Titles Court Bills and extended their appreciation for government developments. On the other hand, Sasina, Letui and Fagae’e had been firm on their decision to oppose the bills that proposed to make the L.T.C. autonomous.
The constituency's Member of Parliament is Laauli Leuatea Schmidt, the leader of the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party.