Minister dismisses claims by Esekia family

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i, 18 April 2019

The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, has dismissed claims Government compensation for land utilised for the Ti’avea Airport project is delayed. 

He said there is a process in place for the Government to follow and they have to be meticulous in how they distribute the funding. 

“There are no delays; there is a process in place. We have to thoroughly check that all the beneficiaries are to be compensated once the funds are distributed. We don’t want to distribute the money and other beneficiaries will come back later and make claims,” he said.

Last week Aila Esekia claimed their family has been waiting for eight months and the Government is yet to compensate them for their family land, which it has leased to build the country’s newest airport. 

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He said the Government owes the family $700,000. 

“We were promised to get our money last year December, then it was January, then February and it is now April and we are still waiting,” he said.

However, the Minister said it is unclear from the list of beneficiaries they have, if the Esekia family is even entitled to compensation. 

“The process is underway and the funds have been approved by Cabinet. They (families) need to wait and be patient and eventually they will get their money,” he said. 

The Ministry does not want any problems to surface after the funds are distributed, he added.

“Also the funds will go directly to the High Chief who will distribute the monies amongst the beneficiaries. I don’t know where this family is located and I’m not sure if this family is a beneficiary."

According to the Minister, there are about 30 families whose land is being used in the project. 

By Joyetter Feagaimaali'i, 18 April 2019

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