Homes and graves to be relocated to make way for airport in Samoa

The matai council of Ti'avea village on the eastern end of Upolu in Samoa, has consented to a government request to relocate homes and graves to facilitate the construction of a $US5 million airstrip.

The Samoa Observer newspaper reported a senior matai, Tolu Iona Maiava, said the village had discussed the request and what they have decided would stand.

"This village has come together in terms of this project as we have discussed this in the village council and made a unanimous decision, as that is how things are done in Ti'avea," Tolu said.

He said whoever owned land affected by the project works could not oppose further developments.

Last year a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the government and the Ti'avea Village Council for compensation of $US1.4 million in exchange for the 26 acres of land belonging to families.

Tolu said he would be affected by the move and he stood to lose a family guest house and some graves.

He said some families had already removed buildings and graves and should anyone oppose the decisions of the village, they could expect to be fined.

The airstrip was recently designated as an alternative International Airport following a report that the Faleolo International Airport was susceptible to high wave coastal damage.