Ti’avea chiefs agree to lease customary lands for airstrip

Part of the land that will be used for the airstrip

By Rula Su’a – Vaai

APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 05 SEPTEMBER 2018: The Alii and Faipule of Ti’avea have finally given the go ahead to the government’s plan to build an airstrip at Tiave’a.

The village mayor Sola Siuele Seiuli confirmed that more than one hundred village matais have given their full support to the government’s project.

“We met during our Monday village meeting, and the issue was discussed, and all have agreed to support the government’s plan,” Sola told Talamua.

“We have yet to discuss some form of compensation for the village as well as families whose land will be used and we will be meeting with the Airport Authority Management, and those will be some of the issues that will be discussed.”

Last week, the Minister of Works and Infrastructure, Papalii Niko Lee Hang told Talamua that “the project was in limbo” and the heavy machinery have been removed from the area for security.

Asked why they opposed the project, Sola said because they were not briefed properly over the plan and what the government wants.

“Most of the matais did not understand what exactly the government wanted and after our meeting with government officials they understood and consented to the project.”

He also added the village matais will deal with anyone from the village who may refuse later.

Tiavea village mayor, Sola Siuele Seiuli

Almost 100 acres of customary lands will be leased to the government for the project. “Our village fono agreed to lease our customary lands,” said Sola.

“How much, and how many years, we will decide in our meeting tomorrow.”

Sola said about 9 families whose lands will be used have all agreed.

“We believe it is best for all of us, employment opportunities and at least it is a way of earning money for most families at Tiavea.”

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Papalii Niko Lee Hang said the purpose of the project is for emergency landing and that the airstrip will be nearer to American Samoa for business travellers.

It is not known when construction works will begin.