Rover Vodka shields itself from scrutiny

The manufacturer of the popular, locally-produced Rover Vodka has declined to comment after its product was repeatedly mentioned in the Supreme Court in connection to a number of serious offences. 

When contacted for comment by the Samoa Observer, a representative for Pacific Rainbow Liquor Company Ltd. refused to be named before making it clear the company had no “comment” on recent court rulings on their product. 

The manufacturer’s representative also refused to provide directions to its factory, saying only that it was located in the "industrial area." 

But according to Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.) records, the business is located in Vaigaga, contrary to Lotopa, printed on the Rover labels.

Rover is available in three sizes. A 500 ml bottle for about $13, a slightly bigger bottle for about $25 and the 1.75 litre for about $38. Prices slightly differ across stores.

Last week, the product was at the centre of public debate about alcohol and crime during the sentencing of two young men, who pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and theft after breaking into a shop. 

Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke described the product as "cheap jet fuel" and advised against consuming the locally produced vodka and said it was responsible for keeping courtrooms full.

Previously, Justice Tologata Tafaoimalo Tuala-Warren has warned about the dangers of excessive consumption of “locally produced Rover vodka” while handing down a sentence for a manslaughter case in Samalaeulu.  

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Police, Prisons and Corrections revealed that domestic violence cases have spiked in the last ten months compared to 2019.

Some 30 per cent of the total of 807 domestic crimes were alcohol-related.

Rover Vodka was identified as the second leading type of alcohol involved in the 245 alcohol-related cases of domestic violence after a non-distilled liquor: Taula Strong beer. 

In March this year, the Salvation Army’s Team Leader, Sailivao Aukusitino Senio, said the group estimated that 90 per cent of crimes committed in Samoa were alcohol and drugs-related.

Between August 2018 and February 2020, the Court has referred 430 people for alcohol-related crimes to the group for counselling and help.

The data, Sailivao said, pointed to the need for a community-based approach to address alcohol and drug abuse in Samoa.

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