Ma’agao to Fa'atoia roadworks halted over dispute

Ma’agao residents have stopped roadworks connecting Ma’agao and Fa'atoia over a land compensation dispute and say they were not consulted.

In separate interviews with the Samoa Observer, the residents said they were not compensated for the lands they’ve lost to the development of the new road.

A Ma’agao resident, Opetera Fa’amanu Vasa, who was of the view that she had the most portion of land within the vicinity of the development expressed concern that there was no consultation in relation to the roadworks.

“We’re not going to let this work continue until we’re compensated first as consulted in the beginning before this even started,” she said.

“Apparently, we were surprised when the (bulldozers) suddenly came and started constructing without any more consultation because we only discussed with L.T.A (Land Transport Authority) way in the beginning but that was it.”

The alleged destruction of 10 breadfruit trees in her front yard also did not go down well with her.

“Now that they’re taken down the breadfruit trees which almost everyone in this village relied mostly on, and not even compensating us first, what will we do about our livelihood?”

According to Mrs. Vasa, the residents of Ma’agao were told that their land will not be compensated as they do not have legitimate ownership. Instead, they were told the Government held the rights to the land.

Attempts by the Samoa Observer to get a comment from the L.T.A were unsuccessful by press time.

The roadworks at the dispute area has not resumed, resulting in the shrubs growing back at the project site. 

Another resident, Matini Malaki, also told this newspaper that their disappointment is with the lack of consultation.

“It’s a really good initiative to construct this new road here, but we’re really lost in terms of what is to expect out of this, especially for us residents whose lands are affected by this work,” he said.

“As you can see at the front there, they’re not resuming the construction of the road because every resident felt this way too and decided to stop this until we’re given the answers we deserve.

“But it will be really helpful if we do have to have this road in the future for our children and our families in terms of transportation.”

The extension of the Loto Samasoni road follows the commissioning of the Loto Samasoni bailey bridge funded by the Australian Government late last year. The road work is being implemented by Ulia Construction Ltd for a contract valued at $905,000. 

The contract was awarded in September, according to the Ministry of Finance records.

The road development in the area is expected to ease traffic from the four lane road on Vaitele Street and Cross Island Road.

Last year, prior to the opening of the Loto Samasoni Bailey bridge, Land Transport Authority Chief Executive Officer, Galumalemana Titi Tutuvanu-Schwalger, said the aim was to continue carrying out the Loto Samasoni project from Ma’agao to Fa'atoia as soon as surveys and feasibility studies were complete.

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