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Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
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Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat
Lalotalie River Retreat

No decision on Tiavi residents yet

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia

No decision on Tiavi residents yet No decision has been made in connection with a proposal by a government MP to evict families living near the Tiavi Falls, in central Upolu. The MP for Siumu, Tu’u’u Anasi’I Leota, told Parliament last week the families in the area should be removed because “they are littering around the area.”

He said he was concerned about the effects that these people have on the environment.  Says Tu’u’u:“They should be dealt with because they are littering around the area.”

Tu’u’u’s proposal was supported by Prime Minister TuilaepaSaileleMalielegaoi.   However, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Taule’ale’ausumaiLa’avasaMalua, is exercising caution.

He says the families in question have not been given any eviction notices. “There is a process we need to go through,” he explains.“We have to talk to families and give compensation for using their landif it is for the benefit of the country. “We are not chasing those people away from their land,” he explains.

“The Ministry is working on identifying areas where it is appropriate for the water catchment project.
“And if the areas identified affect customary land, then we would have to consult with the families affected.”

According to Tu’u’uthough, the land is a government reserve leased to the Ministry of Environment, “so it’s their job to remove those people”.
However, the family of Tae SetefanoMauigoa who live on the land in question have said the land “belongs to our family.”

Now Tu’u’uagre

es. He says the family is right.
“Yes the land they are living on is customary land,” Tu’u’u admits.“It belongs to Leota and his descendants.”

During a visit to Tiavi Falls last week, the Samoa Observerwas told by members of the family “living” near the falls they were living on customary land.
They said they would be asking government for $15million in compensation “if they want us to leave.”

Tuale’ale’ausumai says the land in question is a combination of government and customary lands.  
He explains that any land can be used by the government for any project under the Taking of Land Act 1964.

Some of such lands are those being identified as water catchment areas are in the Vaisigano and Fuluasou region.
However, he says families leasing government land needed for water catchment projects are asked to leave to allow the projects to go ahead.

But there is a process to follow if the lands involved are customary-owned.
“We have to talk to families and give compensation for using their lands if it is for the benefit of the country.”

Meantime, Tuale’ale’ausumai says concerns about people damaging land around the Tiavi waterfall, and trees being cut down are being monitored by the Ministry.
He says those found doing this are liable for their actions and will be penalized.

Tu’u’u told the Samoa Observer that letters written to the Samoa Water Authority and current Minister of Natural Resource and Environment to have the families living near the Tiavi waterfall removed, had not been responded to.

He said he also wrote to the former minister of MNRE, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, to deal with these people but “so far nothing has been done.” Mauigoa says the land she and her family are living on “belongs to our family.” “My father worked that land before I did,” he explains.

“I remember we started clearing and working on it for plantations when I was only 10 years old.” That was in the 1960s.
“We have not been informed in any way by the government that we have to vacate it,” she says “It is not their land. It belongs to our family.”

 

 

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