BUSINESS RELOCATION DISPUTE HAMPERS SAMOA PROJECT

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Government offices being constructed by Chinese firm

By Marieta Heidi Ilalio

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 24, 2009) – The row between Siva Afi Investment Ltd and the government is making the Chinese company constructing the New Government Office Building Complex Project of Samoa at Sogi, confused.

Speaking to Sunday Samoan, Shen Rong, Project Manager, said a spokesperson for the government told him Laumei Faiaga, an entertainment centre run by Siva Afi will be removed at the end of this month.

"But it seems that this won’t happen," Mr Shen said.

He said this was among the things the government should sort out before the commencement of the project with the Chinese Government.

"As I told you before, time is money, and we need to do this project in the time frame given to us," Mr Shen said.

The project should be completed in 28 months and Mr Shen said if the Government cannot sort this out with the owners of the entertainment centre the time will be extended.

"And that is the biggest effect on this project because it has to be completed on time," he said.

According to the Laumei Faiaga owner Leota Lene Leota, he is going to hire a lawyer.

He said he already talked to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and even the Attorney General in order to resolve the impasse.

Leota and wife Clare leased two quarter acre blocks at Sogi where the project will be constructed.

The bid for the lease was tendered out by Samoa Land Corporation SLC) and their bid won. They said their lease was for 20 plus 20 years signed in February 2006.

SLC then transferred ownership of the land to Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) in October 2006.

Siva Afi runs other businesses at Sogi and together employs more than 30 workers there.

Leota said all they’ve wanted is for Government to move them to a location where their businesses can operate at the same level they do now at Sogi.

To date, Government, and in particular MNRE, have not been able to do this, he said.

Government wants to build an office building and a conference centre at the site at Sogi, a project that will spill over to Savalalo.

The project will cost an estimated $424.5 million ($US150 million).

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