'Corrupt Practices' Alleged In Samoa's Second Hand Car Industry

Samoa becoming 'dumping ground' for importation of substandard vehicles

By Sarafina Sanerivi

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, March 8, 2017) – The government has been urged to review the standard and quality of second hand cars being imported. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has also been warned to look into “corrupt practices” involved with the sale of these used cars.

The alarm bells were sounded by a member of the public who warns that Samoa is slowly becoming a dumping ground for cheap vehicles and cars that are unwanted by bigger countries.

The concern was expressed by elderly resident, Paulo, who believes the issue is so serious the government should “wake up immediately.”

The concerned father said the issue came to his attention when he was looking for a car to buy in Samoa last week.  

 “I found out that for some car dealers in Samoa, they don’t have ownership papers for the cars they are selling,” he said. 

“But as you know, ownership papers are very important as they provide you with information about the car and the history of the cars. 

“It gives you information such as the mileage and others. However, I was shocked when I found out that for some of these cars, they don’t have ownership papers. 

“Not only that, but they don’t have window prices for most of the cars. To me, this is very corrupt.”

Paulo said he is mostly worried about people from the rural areas who don’t understand how these things work.

“This is why I want to raise this issue in your newspaper,” he said. “I think people deserve to know what’s happening and the government should be alarmed."

 “The thing is, most of our people are not familiar with buying and selling of cars. They are not aware of these things. They only look at the appearance of the car but they don’t really ask for these things because they are not aware of it." 

“Especially our people from the rural areas. Most of them are not aware that the prices of the cars are also negotiable. They don’t negotiate the prices of the cars, based on the condition of the car.”

He went on to say that the other main problem is that most of the cars being imported Samoa are front rear drives. He believes that these types of cars are not suitable for the roads and environment in Samoa. 

“I think only 1/3 of the cars being imported into Samoa are rear wheel drives, but the rest are front rear drives." 

“These are not suitable for the conditions of the roads and environment in Samoa." 

“The other thing is, if we look at some of the engines of the cars imported to Samoa, some of these cars only have 1.5cc engines. That’s why these cars don’t last longer than one or two years in Samoa.” 

Paulo reiterated that his main concern is that most people are not aware of this problem; therefore they suffer later on trying to fix the broken parts of the cars they bought. 

He said the government should have a specific standard for the cars to be imported into Samoa. 

“They should have a standard for the cars suitable to our roads and environment. In that way, we can only bring in good quality cars for our people." 

“As you can see, we now have heaps of cars in Samoa. But most of these cars don’t last."

“The quality of the cars being imported is not good. And what’s worse is that our people don’t even know this. They just look at the appearance of the cars and then go straight and buy it." 

“This is something the government should look at very careful." 

“But then again, they (government) wouldn’t understand where I am coming from because they are driving around in cars from tax payer’s money." 

“They (government) only care about the tax and fees, and they don’t pay for the cars they use. Only people like you and me can understand this.”

Paulo said the government should review and look at this very careful so that Samoa wouldn’t be a place to chuck used cars from other countries. 

“The other thing is our government should look at bringing in more cars in the country. This can have a huge effect not only on our environment but also our people." 

“We will not only have too many cars which can result in traffic congestion but it can also affect the environment." 

“Moreover, our people will be financially stressed. They will be calling their families overseas to send money to buy a car." 

“It will become a financial burden for many people. They will look at other families with cars and then feel the need to own a car as well.” 

Samoa Observer
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