Vai'aata Prison Project work underway
Construction is underway on the Government’s $800,000 Vaia'ata Prison Project in Savai’i with building material already on site.
A visit by the Samoa Observer to the construction site on Tuesday confirmed building material had already been moved to the area and a brick foundation could be seen in the background.
However, there were no inmates working at the construction site, and were instead seen at the old prison house playing pool.
The head of the Vaia’ata Prison, Sagaga Galu, refused to respond to questions when asked by this newspaper and urged the Samoa Observer to go to his headquarters with any queries.
"Everything must come from our office in Apia," he told the Samoa Observer.
"We are not allowed to release any information and the only people you can get whatever you are after are our media team [Soloi Tuimainei] in Apia."
He also referred all questions to the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil.
Attempts by this newspaper to get a comment from Soloi and Fuiavailili were unsuccessful at the time of going to press.
The Minister of Police and Prisons, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, told the Samoa Observer last week that the jail will be built by skilled inmates.
"There are inmates who have the appropriate skills and knowledge in building, but not a company," the Minister said.
"That's why it wasn't tendered, because there are skilled and experienced inmates in the area of carpentry who are able to build it and train the others; now other inmates have the expertise [...] too."
He further emphasised that the prisoners are not receiving wages in return for their labour.
"That's the money that goes into their food and all, there are no wages or anything.”
The decision to have the inmates build the new prison, according to Tialavea, is to save the Government money.