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Patea issues warning to Satapuala over land dispute

APIA, Samoa —The CEO of the Samoa Trust Estates Corporation (STEC), Patea Loli Malo Setefano, has issued a sobering reminder to the Satapuala Village Council.

“The land at the heart of this dispute does not belong to Satapuala or any village,” Patea said. “It belongs to the people of Samoa.” Patea made the comment when the Samoa Observer contacted him for a comment about the ongoing land dispute between Satapuala and the Government.

Tension is building between the parties after the village stopped Government surveyors from assessing some 10 acres of land across the road from the Faleolo International Airport, last week.

“We weren’t informed [by the government] and we were never asked to give permission to do their work,” Village mayor, Ga Sakaria Lilia, told the Samoa Observer. “This is our land. The government cannot force us to do anything we don't want to do on our land.”

Not so, according to Patea. He said the land being claimed by Satapuala belongs to the Government. He said the Supreme Court has already ruled in favour of STEC in relation to the land.

Patea was referring to a ruling in which the Supreme Court upheld a strike out motion by STEC against a land compensation claim by Satapuala. The same ruling also struck out the village council’s claim for the return of more than eight thousand acres of land situated at Faleolo opposite the international airport.

The Satapuala Village Council claimed that the disputed land was unlawfully sold during the German and New Zealand administrations. LEADERS: Vaili Siaosi and Member of Parliament, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster are at the forefront of Satapuala's fight for land. Continued page 3 But the Supreme Court ruled that prior to 1889, there was no legislation controlling or prohibiting the alienation of land in Samoa.

“The claims made by the village chiefs of Satapuala were dismissed in court,” Patea said. “They were also given the opportunity to appeal the decision which they didn’t. I don’t understand why they are doing this.” Patea confirmed that STEC, last week, subcontracted surveyors to survey the land at Faleolo. “As far as we (STEC) are concerned, there are no other issues to be discussed,” said Patea. “We are now moving on projects approved by government for the land at Satapuala, one of which is a hospital.

 

“I don’t know what Satapuala is trying to do or even why when they are well aware of the Court decision on the land.” Patea said the village has no right to stop Government workers.



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