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Govt. aims to smooth Sogi relocation

Six acres of land behind the Fiafia Samoa Park at Tafa'igata have been cleared and cultivated for the relocation of some twenty families at Sogi. Roads are also being constructed.

The new construction was confirmed by the Samoa Land Corporation's (S.L.C.) Chief Executive Officer, Ulugia Kavesi Petelo, who said they have stepped in to assist the families who will be rebuilding their homes in the area. 

Ulugia also confirmed the installation of a 10,000 litre water tank and Government ministries assisting in connecting water and electricity to the households. 

“Some of the families are getting a quarter-acre of land and others have been allocated one to two acres depending on the members of the household and homes they had at Sogi,” he said during an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

“The lands are only for families that relocated from Sogi, not those who claim they come from there but do not live there.”

The C.E.O. added most of the families have been given 50 per cent of the compensation for relocation agreed upon with the full payment to be made when they begin rebuilding at Tafa'igata. 

“The families are well aware of the terms agreed upon for relocation and once they finally rebuild in Tafaigata the rest of the payment is paid out to them,” he said. 

“There were some issues with the first group of families that relocated and reason why we changed our approach.” 

All of the families at Sogi have accepted an offer from Government to relocate to allow for developments to proceed on the Sogi lands except for Nanai Tokuma's family. 

Those plans include the relocation of the Savalalo market to the back of Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi building in Sogi. 

Ulugia said the Government is being considerate of the situation of families that have agreed to relocate despite a cut-off date given to evict the lands by end of December 2019. 

“We are not forcing them to leave right away because some need time to move,” he explained. 

“We are happy to see that the families are on the move. The (construction of the) new market is scheduled to commence this year and that development cannot be stopped.”

As for Nanai Tokuma's family who has defied Government’s order to leave Sogi, Ulugia said they will continue discussion with them.

“The office will continue to go back to the family with hope that they will have a change of heart,” he said. 

“Those discussions are ongoing…if by the time that we have to proceed with the new market development and they have not agreed [to relocate] we will have no choice but to call on Police to action the eviction order.” 

Most of the families in the affected area of Sogi have already moved to demolish their homes and are on the move. 

Last week, one of the descendants of Tokuma family, Eleni Timo, took down two of their family homes. 

Ms. Timo said her decision to move despite her 72-tear-old mother refusing to move is for the future of her children. 

"I personally feel that my decision to write my name on that paper to move is me thinking about my children’s future," she said. 

Ms. Timo said sea level rising is having a big impact on Sogi and was a major factor behind her deciding to relocate.

“When the tide rises here the water comes up to the doorstep of the house and I fear that one day one of my young children might drown here…it’s for the best [to relocate],” she said. 

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