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Samoa Village stops Government at its borders

Satapuala remains defiant. It will not allow Government workers to set foot on land in their village unless the Government agrees to return land they say was “illegally” taken from them. The dispute came to a head last week when village chiefs and untitled men stopped government workers from surveying a parcel of land the Government is planning to build a hospital on. The hospital, to be funded by the United States of America, is to be built across from the Faleolo International Airport.But the plan has hit a snag. Satapuala has opposed the hospital saying the Government should consult them first. When the surveyors arrived last week, they were told to get off the land. “We weren’t informed [by the government] and we were never asked to give permission to do their work,” Village mayor, Ga Sakaria Lilia, told the Samoa Observer.“This is our land. The government cannot force us to do anything we don't want to do on our land.” Ga said he was among matai from the village who stopped the Surveyors. “Those men didn’t have any right to be on our land,” he said. “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].” Ga said the village reaffirmed its decision during the weekend.“The village has made a taboo on our land,” he said. “The land that belongs to Satapuala will not be walked on [by anyone] without our consent.” Ga explained that “our village has already made their contribution to the development of Samoa and that is the last of it.”