Government defends planned Satitoa Airport

The controversial Satitoa wharf from the air. PHOTO by Lance Polu

The controversial Satitoa wharf from the air. PHOTO by Apulu Lance Polu

APIA; THURSDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2013: The planned construction of an airport at Satitoa, Aleipata is an investment in critical infrastructure development for the future of this country.

A Government press statement last night said that the “project is an investment in rural development and prosperity, as it is an investment in offloading, settlement, social and economic pressures on the already-crowded capital Apia. Samoa’s population is expected to double in 50 years. Statistics indicate the numbers are not slowing down.

“If you want to invest in the future, you build today.

“American Samoa will always remain an important trade and travel market for Samoa. Now and in the foreseeable future. As an American Territory, it will continue to serve as Samoa’s doorway to the United States with its 350 million population and $16 trillion dollar economy – the biggest in the world. The nearest point to American Samoa, and the United States, is Satitoa, Aleipata,” said the statement.

The Tautua Opposition Party fears the airport will be another government project that will fail due to no planning and proper research. Satitoa village harbours the controversial wharf that Tautua claims has drawn the Samoa Ports Authority to bankruptcy. The wharf was to generate trade with American Samoa and have its facilities used as a dry dock, but remains unused.

“Not only is the location ideal, but it makes a lot of economic sense to build the necessary port and airport infrastructure at Satitoa. It not only cuts down fuel costs and travel time between the two Samoas, but opens up commercial opportunities in this vast region of the country,” said the Government statement.

“The Aleipata to Falealili region – with its natural attractions and the best beaches – is already experiencing a booming tourism industry. Several boutique resorts have opened up around the area over the last few years with more in the pipeline in the coming months.

“The bold vision – and expectation – is that Aleipata will have its own thriving satellite township in 20-30 years time. Good state leadership does not become mired and preoccupied in minute issues but must have a dynamic, long term vision for future prosperity, opportunity and development of its citizens.

“Furthermore, an airport at Satitoa is important in ensuring air safety. The Samoan islands are extremely mountainous, especially the interior, with low-hung cloud cover impeding aerial vision a good portion of the year. It has been responsible for a number of fatal plane crashes in recent times. Building an airport at Satitoa – the furthest point east of Samoa – avoids flying over the dangerous mountain ranges. It also makes light aircraft short-haul flights attractive.

“In summary, whether it is education, health, business, trade or aviation, Samoa is a country that invests in its future. Certainly not just for the next general elections, but for future generations.

“And it will continue to do so,” the statement ended. 

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