Savai'i courthouse deadline nears

Bidders have less than two weeks to express their interest in designing, laying out and supervising the construction of a new courthouse and judge’s residence in Salelologa, Savaii.

The tender notice on the Ministry of Finance website shows that bidders have until 25 January at 11am to bid for the contract.

The Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.) head, Moliei Simi Vaai, said in a previous interview with the Samoa Observer that the project is expected to be completed this year.

She said deteriorating conditions and a backlog of court cases have called for the construction of a new courthouse and judge's residence in Savai’i with more courtrooms at a new location.

Mrs.Vaai says the project will be on four acres of land and may have up to three or four courtrooms, plus the judge's residence.

In Savaii, the current courthouse is located at Tuasivi. It has one courtroom.

The Ministry stated that the idea to relocate and erect new facilities is due to the visible need to upgrade the office buildings and facilities at Tuasivi, which were deemed old, inconvenient, small in space and unsafe for the public.

"The current office is a single open area which its main door is both the entrance and exit and does not present any privacy for mediation sessions for cases such as maintenance, probation, civil as well as lands and title matters," a Ministry reference document reads.

"The courtrooms, on the other hand, are old and deteriorating in terms of quality, becoming unsafe when masses of people turn up especially for Lands and Title cases.

"In addition, the number of courtrooms is not sufficient which limits the number of cases heard in a week which is another problem on its own as one contributing factor to the reasons behind delays of hearing court cases.

"These issues definitely do call for a new Courthouse in Savaii for Civil and Criminal Courts, Lands and Titles Court of Appeal, Lands and Titles courts as well as the office for the administrative services."

The M.J.C.A. Savai’i Division currently provides support services to the District Courts and Land and Titles Courts, as well as mediation and registry services; and probation, parole and maintenance services.

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