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PM vows to continue with new hospital

The Samoa Government has vowed to continue with plans for a hospital to be constructed in Satapuala, opposite the Faleolo International Airport, despite opposition from the village of Satapuala.

The hospital will be funded by the United States of America.

Samoa Observer reports Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi saying that Satapuala overstepped the mark when it stopped surveyors sent by the Samoa Trust Estate Corporation (STEC) to assess the land.

“The land does not belong to Satapuala. “I don’t know how many times we must make this clear to Satapuala. Regardless of their bans, the government plans to build the hospital will proceed.”

Samoa Observer reports that Tuilaepa noted that the ongoing dispute over the land has gone far enough.

“Satapuala has gone to the Court so many times regarding the land, and the Court has made it abundantly clear that the land belongs to the Government. That is the end of it.”

In a ruling in which the Supreme Court of Samoa 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.

But the Supreme Court ruled that prior to 1889, there was no legislation controlling or prohibiting the alienation of land in Samoa.

According to Samoa Observer, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said Satapuala has neither approached him or any other Government official about the land. “No one has come to me about it,” Tuilaepa said. “So I plan to give the Satapuala chiefs a call and have them come down to my office so we can discuss this issue.”

Meanwhile , Tuilaepa said the Government plans to begin construction of the hospital later this month. “All the land that was taken by government from Satapuala has been paid and they (Satapuala) have no claim on any of these lands that government is planning to use.”

“As far as I am concerned, there is nothing to discuss with Satapuala. The bans they are threatening will not stop progress, the government will move forward with its plans.”

Village Mayor, Ga Sakaria said the Samoa Government should have consulted them first.

“We weren’t informed by the government and we were never asked to give permission to do their work,” Ga said about the surveyors they ordered off the land.

“This is our land. The government cannot force us to do anything we don't want to do on our land. Those men didn’t have any right to be on our land. As a result of a village meeting on Saturday, our village is steadfast on protecting our land.

“We will not allow this hospital to be built unless we are given a satisfactory answer from the government.”

The village council of Satapuala claim their land was “illegally” taken from them.

“The land that belongs to Satapuala will not be walked on [by anyone] without our consent.”