By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: FRIDAY 08 FEBRUARY 2013: The village of Magiagi has challenged Government to go ahead and cut the power supply after months of unsuccessful negotiations between the village and the Government.
Village Mayor Tuiono Uini told the media today as they witnessed the police and Electric Power Corporation workers installing a cash power unit to one of the two families who agreed to switch to the cash power service.
Tuiono said that the village is firm on their decision “not to switch to cash power.” He also said Government can go ahead and cut the power supply to the village, but they will continue to fight their case.
Tuiono rubbished information already circulated in the media that several families have switched to cash power.
“There are only two families who want cash power, not the whole village,” said Tuiono.
Today, EPC workers turned up with the police to install cash power units in one of the families. A few minutes later, the Mayor and some of the village matais turned up and stood across from the road and watched as the workers continued their work.
“We are not here to stop the work, but to ensure that the installation of cash power is limited to only two families,” said Tuiono.
“We will not stop any families from switching to cash power,” said Tuiono.
Muaimalae Melei, is the only survining member of the village council that signed the agreement with the Government in 1981 for the use of the village lands for EPC work.
Muaimalae said that in the agreement, the Government granted the village free power supply in exchange for the free use of their lands for the hydro dam and electric power station. The prime Minister then was Tupuola Efi. However, the village never enjoyed free electricity until 1997 when the village council approached the government again. The Government then was under the leadership of the late Tofilau Eti Alesana and the Minister for Works, Leafa Vitale granted free electricity use for the village up to last year.
Muaimalae unsuccessfully tried to send a village delegation to meet with the Head of State, who was Prime Minister at the time of the agreement, but was discouraged by the Mayor and other elders of the village.
Tuiono said their decision remains but will not interfere with the families who wants cash power.
The Government argues that granting free electricity to a certain village is unfair to the rest of the country who are paying for electricity use. The Minister of the Electric Power Corporation, Manu’alesagalala Enokati yesterday said that government will terminate electricity supply to the village of they continue to refuse the installation of pre-paid electricity meters.