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CofC chair concerned over location of cold storage

Chamber of Commerce chairman David Robinson has applauded the move by StarKist Samoa to expand operations in the territory through the freezer storage facility project, but he has concerns over the location of the facility being in an area so close to arriving cruise ship tourists as well as the main road.

Last week, Gov. Togiola Tulafono announced that the government and StarKist Co., owner of StarKist Samoa, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which notes the intent of the two sides to enter into a lease agreement for the 42,000 square foot parcel of land — that lies directly between the Port Administration building and the inter island dock — for the construction of the cold storage facility.

“It is encouraging to note that Starkist is willing to expand its operations by building a new cold storage facility, and it is also pleasing to note that the proposal has the support of the ASG,” said Robinson responding to Samoa News inquiries. “From the Chamber’s point of view we are naturally keen to support projects that have a positive benefit on the territory’s economy.”

“However, we are concerned that the location may not be the most suitable from an environmental perspective, it may not be a compatible activity located in an area where there are ever increasing numbers of tourists arriving on cruise ships, and there could be some transportation issues on the main road from the cannery to the cold storage,” he said yesterday.

The parcel of land in question is reclaimed land and therefore the cost of construction is likely to be expensive, particularly when deep piling may be required to support the cold storage, he points out.

“This said, we need to wait for some more definitive plans to be announced by Starkist as no doubt they will have thought about these issues in this choice of location,” said Robinson, further commenting “It is interesting to note that the company was offered a parcel of land on the western side of the Satala Shipyard running parallel to the road and only about a minute’s drive from the cannery processing plant.

According to the chairman, this area was originally considered to be a most suitable location for the planned cold storage facility.

(Samoa News also points out that the governor has said that the local government is applying to the Department of Interior for funds to build the facility. What exactly this entails has not been clarified, as the MOU indicates that a land lease agreement for the cold storage site between ASG and StarKist is intended. Is it a joint venture?) 

“We remain encouraged by Starkist’s willingness to make further investments in the territory and we look forward to more details of their cold storage proposal in due course,” said Robinson, who is also vice chairman of the ASG Shipyard Services Authority, which oversees the management and operation of the Ronald Reagan Marine Railway shipyard.

While a final agreement has yet to be worked out, Togiola has said that both sides are earnestly pursuing a successful negotiation of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.

 “The bottom line is to help our canneries remain competitive. This also means potential jobs for dozens of people in the Territory,” the governor said.