Vaiusu chief says Govt. yet to talk to them about wharf

The Government has not consulted the village of Vaiusu on its proposed multi-million-tala wharf project.

High Chief of Vaiusu, Ulugia Aukuso Simo, told the Samoa Observer in an interview at his residence that it is not the first time his village has been connected to the project. 

But as the owners of the land for the proposed project, he said the Government should show common courtesy to consult them first.

“If the so called wharf will be built on our lands, at least have the courtesy of talking to us about it first, after all it is the right thing to do," he said.

“The Government should consult the Village Council first. We understand the port will benefit the country as a whole, however they should inform us of their (government) plans on our lands,” he said. 

Ulugia said many families in the village will be affected by the project.

“Our village meets the first Saturday of every month and this issue has not been on our agenda as there has been no official word from the  Government. 

“However it would be good, to at least consult with the people that actually own the land before they continue with their plans.

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“There are close to 100 families that will be affected and if the government wants to use Vaiusu as their wharf, can they at least make time and talk to the people of Vaiusu first, it is common courtesy and any world leader knows this."

In April this year, the Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, said the surveys are still being conducted for the area to ensure the environment is not affected. 

A Technical Assistant's Report on the Ports Development Master Plan from the Asian Development Bank, which was dated April 2015, said the Government has proposed a new port at a green-field site at Vaiusu Bay.

According to Ulugia Aukuso, these reports started back in 2016. 

“Vaiusu and Vaigaga will be impacted greatly,” he said. 

Asked whether the village has considered the proposal, Ulugia said once it is presented the decision is up to the people.

“I can’t make the decision for the village, our village will have their say on this proposed project.” 

Contacted for a comment, Faumuina said the matter was addressed in Parliament. 

“But my query was shut down by the Prime Minister saying that until there is funding then the government will conduct consultation with Vaiusu. 

“To date, we are still waiting and I know for a fact the plans we have seen from the Port Authority, the wharf extends from Vailoa all the way to Toamua."
Last week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi advised that the Chinese Government was the only development partner who gave a positive response to the Samoa Government's request for funding assistance.

The proposed work will see the complete overhaul and upgrade of other domestic ports such as the Asau, Mulifanua and Salelologa.

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