Government takes 26 Acres of Customary Land for Tiavea Village Airport Project

Lagi Keresoma

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PHOTO: The Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, Fiame Naomi Mataafa signs for Government with the Tiavea Village Council chiefs signing the Agreement to take 26 acres of customary land for the Tiavea Village Airport Project

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 25 APRIL 2019:  Representatives of Tiavea Village Council and families whose lands have been taken for the Tiavea Airport Project today signed an Agreement with the Government that formalizes the sale of the land for the project.

Representing the Government was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) Fiamē Naomi Mataafa.

Tiavea Village was represented at High Chief Tuiavi’i and the Village Mayor Sola Siulele Seiuli and the chiefs of the village council.

“Your contribution, support and presence as keepers and guardians of the Airport and protection “Pule Faamalumalu” is fully acknowledged and recognized,” said Fiame.

Also signed today were the Deeds of Settlement (DoS) between the Samoa Government and families whose lands have been used for the Airport.

Eleven Lots of Land are affected of which three families have completed all the relevant requirements for the confirmation of funds disbursed as payment of their lands taken by Government to build the Inter-island Airport at Tiavea, Aleipata.

Fiamē said that although the project is under the Samoa Airport Authority (SAA), it is MNRE that signs any agreement regarding the use of customary lands for big development projects.

“Government has already endorsed funds for this purpose and all that is left is to finalise the paperwork then disburse the compensation fund,” explained Fiame.

Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa (third sitting from right) with members of the Tiavea Village Council at the conclusion of the signing ceremony this morning

Tiavea village has agreed to sell 26 acres of their customary lands for the project.

“We were offered $30 talā per square meter but we requested $60 talā,” said Tiavea village Mayor, Sola Siulele Seiuli.

“But Government has given us $59 talā for one square meter and we accepted it.”

He further said it was only when the families whose land are included in the sale agreed to the offer that the village decided to support it.

$4 million talā has been earmarked for the land compensation but the how much will be paid to the individual families are not made public.

The 26 acres of Tiavea village customary land have been taken under the Taking of Land Amendment Act 2009, for public development projects that benefit the whole country.

The Agreement is in three phases and includes 50% to be paid upon signing under Phase One, 40% on the satisfactory progress of the work under Phase 2, and 10% on the completion and opening of the airport under the last phase.