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Fo’isia to be leased by Swains Island community

Port Administration is negotiating with the Swains Island Community Group to lease the government vessel, Fo’isia to operate boat service to the remote atoll, which has long been faced with an inconsistent schedule of ocean transportation.


The Fo’isia, purchased by the previous administration, was to have been put up for sale last year, but in his address to the Fono last month, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said plans to auction off the Fo’isia did not materialize last year.


“It appears that many of the engine parts have been stolen, thus rendering the vessel less attractive to any buyer,” he said, adding a proposal was being prepared for the utilization of the Fo’isia for the territory’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) enforcement purposes given the “proliferation of encroachment into our EEZ by foreign fishing vessels.


“An additional caveat of this proposal is the use of the Fo’isia to serve Swains Island. The proposal is predicated on whether the engine is salvageable,” Lolo said.


Asked for an update on the Fo’isia, the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereria said late Monday afternoon that Swains Island Rep. Alexander Eli Jennings has been informed to work with Port Administration on details of the assignment of the vessel for Swains Island service.


Iulogologo also said the proposed use of the Fo’isia would include the monitoring of the local EEZ as well as serving the needs of Swains Island. “Rep. Jennings has devised ways to obtain the necessary funds to repair the vessel and get it sea worthy and approved by [U.S.] Coast Guard,” he told Samoa News. “We are awaiting the specifics of the exchange between Port and Rep. Jennings.”


Responding to Samoa New inquiries, Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele said that as of Monday this week, the Fo’isia “is being assigned to the Swains Island Community Group” and Rep. Jennings is the lead person in this transaction.


“Once we transfer the Fo’isia to this organization it will be their responsibility to outfit the vessel to meet their needs,” she said yesterday morning, noting a proposed lease agreement for use of the vessel by the Swains Island group is being worked on.


Jennings couldn’t be immediately reached for comments yesterday and his cell phone didn’t accept a voice mail message. However, Samoa News should point out Jennings has long urged more government support for economic development of Swains, saying the lack of ocean transport is one of the major issues, noting especially there is no consistent schedule of sailing to the tiny atoll.


ASG last year moved to auction the Fo’isia after it was found that repairing it would be “uneconomical” due to high maintenance costs. The vessel, which was to sail between the Manu’a islands — was bought with a portion of the $1 million allocated to the Manu’a District as part of the $20 million loan from the ASG Employees Retirement Fund.


As previously reported by Samoa News, the government more than three years ago allocated $450,000 for the boat purchase. The final purchase price of the vessel, including shipping costs, etc. was:


Cost of the vessel            $320,000.


Satellite phone            $3,000


Shipping costs            $33,000


Shipping cradle            $11,000


Grand total:            $367,000.00