Notorious Samoa Prison To Be Relocated Next Year

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Tafa’igata no longer appropriate in residential neighborhood

By Pai Mulitalo Ale

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Aug. 7, 2015) – The Prison at Tafa’igata will relocate to its new location at Tanugamalala by March next year.

This was confirmed by the Assistant Commissioner of Prisons and Corrections Services, Ulugia Niuia Aumua.

According to the Assistant Commissioner, the land issues are being finalised and once that is cleared, the Ministry will proceed with the relocation.

"The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Samoa Land Corporation are handling all the land issues," he said. "We have identified the area where the prison will be located.

"We are looking at about 100 acres to be fenced off, 50 acres is where the prison building will be and another 50 acres will be used by prisoners for plantations."

Ulugia confirmed that China has already thrown its support behind the project, with an offer to fence the entire area. "The government is pushing us to have this built by the end of this year and that’s how urgent it is for us to move," he added.

Ulugia said they have already started clearing and working the land at Tanumalala.

"We have staff that are there and the prisoners are developing the land, doing the plantation work," he said. "The plan is that by the time we move over, we will have some food for the prisoners."

Although China has offered to build the security fence, Ulugia said the Tenders Board will deal with the construction of the actual prison facility.

A key part of the prison plan is for the facility to accommodate the growing number of prisoners. Although the plan was initially for 700 prisoners, Ulugia indicated that this was unrealistic because the number of prisoners has already exceeded 600 and multiplying quite quickly.

Ulugia said the prison is overcrowded and this has resulted in a number of health issues.

The plan to relocate the prison was revealed in a letter from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, to the Minister of Police and Prisons, Sala Fata Pinati, last year.

Dated 6 November 2014, the letter titled "Shift of Prison" also highlights Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s concerns about the current location of the prison.

" It’s too dangerous and inappropriate," Tuilaepa said about the prison’s existence in Tafa’igata.

The area and surrounding villages including Nu’u, Falelauniu and Siusega are becoming increasingly populated as residents from rural villages seek freehold land to be closer to Apia.

The Prime Minister said this makes the plan all the more important because it is not appropriate to have a prison in the midst of a residential area.

The plan, he added, is to distance the main prison from the Apia Township so that risks associated with having such a facility near residential areas are eliminated.

The Prime Minister also wants Tafa’igata to be vacated, providing more land for the Industrial Zone to allow for other commercial developments.

Among the proposed developments are renewable energy projects, tourism developments, schools, factories and others. Tuilaepa said there is more than enough land space at Tanugamalala to accommodate the country’s main prison. He also revealed that should the new prison be built, Police officers would no longer be allowed to stay on site. They would have to travel there on a daily basis to avoid problems such as the ones recently identified by the Commission of Inquiry into the Tafa’igata Prison.

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