N.E.O.C. Chair under discussions
Discussions about appointing a permanent Chair to the National Emergency Operations Centre, are underway as Interim Chair, Agafili Shem Leo, racks up his third month on the job.
Speaking after a press conference on Monday, Agafili said he remains the Interim Chair for now but confirmed there are discussions happening about an official appointment.
He did not give more details or dates, saying only that: “there is [a] discussion in the pipeline.”
Agafili took over from former chief executive officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Ulu Bismarck Crawley at the end of October 2020.
Ulu left the N.E.O.C and his public service position to run for the election under the Human Rights Protection Party banner.
Since then Agafili has overseen several close calls with the virus, with two repatriated citizens testing positive while in quarantine when the tests picked up their historical infections. Neither was contagious.
He has also been at the helm of routine COVID-19 press conferences which have included relevant agencies like the Ministry of Health, or the Samoa Ports Authority when there have been cargo-ship-related virus scares.
In the midst of the pandemic problems, Agafili also led the emergency response to flash flooding in December which caused significant damage in Apia, and the surrounding area.
He is also C.E.O. of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Chair of the National Security Committee.
The Cabinet is responsible for appointing the Chair of the N.E.O.C.
When Agafili was appointed, a Government press release said Agafili will take over until Ulu’s role is filled in M.N.R.E.
On Wednesday last week, the Ministry held a welcoming service for their new C.E.O., Frances Brown-Reupena, who comes to the role after nearly a decade in the public service.
She has been Assistant C.E.O. of the Environment Sector Coordination Division, and the Water and Sanitation Sector Coordinator.
As C.E.O. she will be at the helm of the nation’s largest Ministry which comprises 14 departments including Renewable Energy; the Water and Sanitation Sector; Legal Services; Forestry; the Disaster Management Office; the Climate Change and G.E.F. Division; Environment and Conservation; Water Resources; Land Management; the Spatial Information Agency and the Samoa Meteorology Division.