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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 31) - As Governor Togiola moves forward with the fiber optic cable project, Senate President Lolo M. Moliga has requested that the Manu'a Islands be included in this "pivotal project" along with Tutuila.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the National Park of American Samoa website, the Manu'a Island group includes the volcanic islands of Ofu and Olosega (joined by a bridge), and Ta'u. These islands lie 60 miles east (a 30-minute flight on a small plane) from Tutuila; flights are available between Ofu and Ta'u. These islands are sparsely populated - each village has only a few hundred people.]

The governor had said that if all goes well in accordance with current plans, American Samoa should be connected to the fiber optic by early 2009, if not sooner.

"The inherent business, economic, and social benefits which prompted your commitment and enthusiasm to pursue American Samoa's involvement in the fiber optic initiative will also accrue to the Manu's Islands," Lolo wrote in a July 27 letter to Togiola.

"It is my strong belief that this project will contribute positively in supplementing our collaborative efforts, dedicated to the development and repopulation of the Manu'a Islands," he said.

Lolo said he shares the governor's assertion during the Fono opening that American Samoa's future pathway will be strewn with monumental challenges that could very well be manifested in human suffering if America Samoa fails to fully mitigate conditions precipitating these problems.

"The fiber optic initiative is one of the universal remedies that would lessen the adverse impact of conditions perpetrated by external policies or interventions," he wrote. "It behooves us therefore to maximize its utilization so its scope mitigation is pervasive."

He also commended the governor for his vision and efforts to ensure that American Samoa "totally captures the economic and social benefits embedded in this project".

"In light of this conviction, I hope that connectivity forged by fiber optic links between Tutuila and all of the Manu'a Islands and within the Manu'a islands themselves will be established and operational within the same time frame Tutuila's system becomes functional," the said.

"This project will appreciably enhance Manu'a development environment which will in turn entice the establishment of businesses and creation of jobs: the formula that will attract residents back to the Manu'a Islands," said Lolo.

Copies of Lolo's letter were forwarded to all senators and the three House members from Manu'a. Lolo represents Manu'a District #2 (Ofu, Olosega, Sili) in the Senate.

The governor announced in mid June following a meeting with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne that a letter of intent was under review in the regards to the fiber optic project (Pacific Rim East cable) and was to have been finalized at the time.

There has been no response from the governor, who is currently off island, as to the status of this letter of intent. The governor believes this project will build local infrastructure and attract foreign investors to the territory as well as build and promote a local skilled labor force.

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