Samoa Headline News
GOVT ORDERS RAMPS RIPPED UP
Thousands of Upolu motorists have been left frustrated over the past week as contractors for the Land Transport Authority ordered road work on what many regard as the busiest stretch of road in Samoa.
On Saturday, the two sea-side lanes were closed and cones placed to route traffic onto the inland side of the main west coast road.
Traffic bound for Apia from Vaitele slowed to a crawl around Vaimoso, with cars, trucks, buses and taxis backing up a mile and a half or more.
Workers from Ott Transport used diggers and jack hammers to tear up the ‘ramps’ on both sides of the main road speed bumps.
During breaks in oncoming traffic some drivers used the center lane to jump the backup.
One infuriated motorist rang the Samoa Observer to complain about the road work, the Apia newspaper reports.
It is not clear why the angle of the ramps needed changing and LTA could not be contacted for comment.
But the ramp work recalls criticism worldwide that governments pay contractors fat fees for road and other infrastructure work, only to waste millions on redoing projects.
BANKS FACE $1 BILLION FIGHT OVER FEES
All banks operating in Samoa must be up front with fees they charge customers say regulators, commenting on a legal fight overseas on more than $1 billion tala in ‘excess’ fees.
The Samoa Observer quotes Central Bank of Samoa ACEO Gilbert Wong Sin saying banks in Samoa are obliged under law to ensure the customer understands the different types of fees that may hit their account.
“Banks here have a huge booklet of fees and charges listing all the different products they apply them to,” said Wong Sin. “So it is quite a lot of information in terms of what customers should know.
He was being asked to comment on the class-action lawsuits the ANZ Bank is fighting in Australia and as of next week, New Zealand.
It is the first bank to be taken to court in New Zealand over what the claimants deem unfair penalty fees.
Fair Play on Fees founder and lawyer Andrew Hooker said at a recent press conference that ANZ has overcharged hundreds of millions of dollars over the past six years.
While overdrawn accounts, bouncing checks, and late credit card payments usually incur fees of $10-$20, Hooker has claimed the real cost to banks is just a few cents.
That allegedly violates a principle of contract law, which says customers can only be charged a default fee that reflects the reasonable cost to the lender.
Hooker said previously that banks had simply ignored the principle for years and customers had been helpless to fight them.
Meanwhile, down south more than 22,000 people have signed up for the class-action law suit so far, giving the campaign the critical mass required to file papers against ANZ with the High Court in Auckland next Tuesday.
SAMOA TOURISM HEAD ADMITS TOUGH TIMES
Samoa Observer reports Tourism head Papali’i Sonja Hunter has ducked questions facing her office about a crisis in tourism – by writing a long letter to the editor, published in full in the Samoa Observer.
Papali’i does however make two key admissions that appear to contradict denials from the minister of Tourism, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
She admits to “tough times” in tourism, and acknowledges there has been an “outcry” over a need for a change in marketing.
While admitting to “tough times” in a sub-heading Papali’i does not detail what that means for Samoa tourism, instead focusing on natural disasters, overseas problems - and dogs.
The government responded citing its drive to pass the Canine Control Bill, which will assist with the canine campaign for a safer Samoa.
Tourism industry concerns center on Samoa having too many rooms, and not enough tourists. Operators say that the current marketing mix is not working.
MINISTER OBJECTS TO USE OF “PUSI” IN PARLIAMENT
The Samoa Observer is reporting Minister of Justice, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa this week criticized a fellow Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) Cabinet Minister for using the word “pusi” in reference to women.
This came on the day when 44 Members of Parliament all voted to amend the Samoa Constitution to allow for five additional seats for women in the Legislative Assembly.
One of two women MPs, Fiame told Parliament the reference made by the Siumu MP and Associate Minister of Education, Tuu’u Anasi’i Leota, where he quoted a song from popular comedy duo, Sumeo and Petelo, had a double meaning.
She was referring to Tuu’u’s use of the phrase; “E le o se pusi atoa a o le afa pusi…” In English, it translates; “It is not a whole cat but half a cat.”
In Samoan, the word ‘pusi’ can refer to a sea-eel. It can also be used to refer to a woman’s private parts.
The Observer quotes Fiame saying it was rude, inappropriate and a degrading way to look at women and she requested that the words from the Siumu MP be removed.
Fiame went on to say that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele had spoken clearly to explain the goals of the Constitution Amendment Bill 2013 and yet Tuu’u used as an example something from our “ghosts Sumeo and Petelo.”
But Tuu’u was unapologetic towards Fiame. The Associate Minister challenged this “woman Minister” to define the word “pusi,” and “I ask that she explain to me the pusi she knows,” he said, adding that “the one I know” is different, the Observer quoted him saying.
At that point, Speaker La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao intervened.
As for the Constitution Amendment Bill 2013, it received unanimous support from Members of Parliament. The new law means that from the next General Elections, at least five seats in Parliament will be occupied by women. That’s at least 10 per cent of seats in the House.
Source: Samoa Observer