Caretaker P.M.'s letter of complaint
Letter to the Editor
I refer to your recent article on logging activities in Savaii which directly relates to logging operations by Andrew Ah Liki in the disputed forest boundary between Aopo and Sasina.
This dispute has been a subject of the Land Court Decision and the affected villages had sought Government’s help for the survey of their boundaries.
When MNRE’s Minister and Deputy PM Fiame, resigned end of 2020 and I took over the MNRE portfolio, I inherited this ongoing dispute.
In a subsequent meeting in December 2020 with Aopo, Sasina, Letui and Fagae’e village chiefs together with their MP La’auli, I was told that this boundary dispute has been ongoing for 30 years!
The solution was quite simple.
Government would provide the surveyor.
MNRE personnel and the surveyor were about to begin the surveying in January 2021 when Aopo village chiefs objected to the selected surveyor as being a friend of La’auli.
It was then decided that the surveying would begin after the General Elections in April by another surveyor.
Meanwhile to discourage further anticipated accelerated illegal logging, the most effective deterrent would be to temporarily suspend timber shipments via the Samoa Shipping Corporation from Savaii for commercial sale in Apia till after the surveying of the huge forest areas in Aopo.
This does not stop sales of timber in Savaii.
The logic is simple.
Any illegal logging at Aopo forests can be labelled as timber from other areas in Savaii.
The prolong suspension of the boundary survey since then is caused by the political uncertainty initiated by La’auli, Fiame etc and I hope the Samoa Observer newspaper will some day begin to print unbiased reporting.
Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi
* The Samoa Observer Editorial Board wrote to the Government Press Secretariat asking which article the caretaker Prime Minister was writing in response to. No reply was received.