Dispute Over American Samoa Taxi Stand Relocation Heads To Court

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Company believes lease with government doesn’t allow forced moved

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 9, 2014) – Department of Commerce Director, Keniseli Lafaele has confirmed that the dispute between his office and SMALL Enterprises regarding the relocation of the three taxi stands is now before the Attorney General’s office.

SMALL Enterprises in a letter says the lease agreement they signed with the American Samoa Government where the taxi stands are located near the airport, does not give the DOC Director the authority to demand their relocation.

As first reported by Samoa News earlier this week, ASG has given the three Airport taxi stands notice that by Wednesday, June 4, 2014, they should relocate to the old government gas station area, located in the industrial park.

Samoa News should point out that to date only one of the three taxi stands has moved to the location where DOC assigned the taxi stands.

In response to Samoa News queries over the weekend, Lafaele said DOC and Public Works are moving forward with prepping the temporary location to accommodate the relocation of the taxi stands building with toilet facilities, and portable latrines will be brought in depending on how many taxi stands or operators will be relocated.

Asked about the recent letter from SMALL Enterprises, the DOC Director said the the AG Office is handling the legalities relative to this case as raised by the SMALL Enterprises attorney, Tasi Tuiteleleapaga. "So no comment from the DOC until such legal issues are addressed by the attorneys from both sides."

Samoa News also asked how much will ASG charge the stands and Lafaele responded the monthly lease rates will be determined when legal issues are resolved. SMALL Enterprises charges each Taxi stand a $200 monthly rate.

Lafaele further told Samoa News they’re hoping this matter will be resolved sooner than later, and the taxi operators relocate on their own to the new location while the legal issues are ironed out. "Our main concern is the safety of the traveling public, taxi operators, and workers doing the road work; and that the construction work can proceed unobstructed."

He said the infrastructure improvements going on and being planned in the airport area and the Industrial Park area to spur economic and business development, including tourism, and the current state of the taxi stands is incongruent with planned developmental initiatives.

He said "it's unsightly, unsanitary and not unusual to see operators relieving themselves (urinating) in broad daylight."

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