Lolo admin checks out the needs of Manu’a
During his first official visit to the Manu’a island group this week, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga promised to set up in Manu’a an office of every government department and agency that is on Tutuila. The governor also got an earful of complaints from ASG workers based in Ofu and Olosega while he was there.
Lolo and other ASG officials traveled to Ofu and Olosega islands last week Tuesday onboard the ASG plane Segaula, while the rest of his cabinet and senior officials traveled Monday night on the MV Sili. Following their visit to Ofu and Olosega, they visited Ta'u island, after which they all returned Wednesday evening.
At the official gathering on Ofu to meet the visiting delegation, Manu’a District Governor Misaalefua J. Hudson stated that previous administrations have forgotten about economic development for his district, but he now believes that under the new governor there will be changes for the island group.
He said every time he brought up the subject of economic development for Manu’a during previous administrations, there were complaints lodged against him — or they just laughed. Misaalefua said everyone seems to forget that Manu’a is a part of the American Samoa Government (or in the Samoan language, faigamalo a Tutuila ma Manu’a).
In response, Lolo said at the meeting that he will find ways to make sure that all government services available on Tutuila will be available in Manu’a, by setting up offices in the island group. He said the goal is for residents to have easy access to government services as well as improving economic conditions for island residents.
He told directors at the meeting to find ways to set up offices in Manu’a as well as recruit staff. The governor wants the Ofu Airport office to also include inside a Public Safety office to serve the villages of Ofu, Olosega and Sili. There is currently just one ASG police officer for the three villages.
The police officer told Samoa News that he has a vehicle to carry out his duties, but he has no office, so his office is in his home. Lolo wants the DPS office at the airport to also provide airport security.
The governor also plans to utilize the Public Works Department office at the Ofu wharf to include the office for the Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA). There is also an office for the Department of Human and Social Services on Ofu, but it lacks furniture, such as office desks and chairs.
The governor and his delegation toured Ofu and Olosega and were given a complete inspection of government facilities, such as schools and offices that house the Department of Human and Social Services.
The governor, along with his cabinet, also got an earful of concerns and complaints from ASG employees based in Ofu and Olosega as they told his delegation about the lack of equipment and office supplies.
Eseta Papalii, who heads the DHSS office there, says that even a computer and Internet for the office is lacking. She says the only piece of equipment for them to use for communication purposes is a fax machine but there is no Internet to expedite communication to Tutuila.
In a separate interview, Papali’i told Samoa News that another problem she faces is the lack of staff to carry out the DHSS work and mission. DHSS director Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona said next week’s sail of the MV Sili will include ten chairs and tables for the Ofu office, while the issue of staffing will be addressed soon.
Perhaps the government facility with the most problems, as witnessed by the governor and his delegation is the Ofu Dispensary, which comes under the jurisdiction of the Health Department. There is a shortage of medication and medical supplies and the air conditioning unit inside the room where patients are treated has been out for more than a year.
An official with the clinic told the delegation that they have sufficient workforce, but their major problem is the lack of medication and therefore they can’t treat patients seeking help. She also said that if they keep a patient at the clinic, all windows and doors of the dispensary must be opened to allow air to cool the room. She noted a request had been made in the last 12-months to fix the air conditioner, but without any success.
In a separate interview, she told Samoa News that there is always a power outage in the area and some of the lights inside the clinic have not worked for three months. In the room that is used to treat patients, Samoa News noticed three beds and a big hole in the ceiling, which —according to the nurse — has been there for almost a year.
At the Ofu Elementary School, a crew from the American Samoa Power Authority and the Department of Public Works are working on improving electric and plumbing issues. At the ASG office at the Ofu airport, repair work is also being carried out.
Farewell words came from Misalefua and leaders of Ofu and Olosega, who asked the government not to forget them when it comes to economic development and other needs. Misaalefua said they would await the results of the promises made by the governor and his cabinet.
Lolo responded that the government alone couldn’t assist with economic development unless there is full and complete cooperation from residents of Ofu and Olosega. He said Tutuila and Manu’a would benefit if everyone works together for the benefit of the territory, its people and the government.
After the Ofu and Olosega visit, the delegation traveled to Ta’u island and Tuesday’s edition of Samoa News will have details of the trip.
[The original Samoan versions of this story were published in last week’s Thursday and Friday’s editions of Samoa News/Le Lali)
Translated by Samoa News staff