10 Sep 2009

Samoa church pastors pleaded with villagers to settle grievance directly

8:52 am on 10 September 2009

Samoan church pastors, who ended a road blockade on Savaii Island say they pleaded with villagers to settle their grievance directly with the government.

Many drivers were inconvenienced for several hours, after local matai from the village of Sakalafai ordered big rocks to be placed on the road leading to Salelologa wharf prior to the road switch on Monday.

Pleas by policemen, locals and stranded drivers to clear the road were ignored by village chiefs.

Matai Pauli Apelu wanted the blockade to remain so it could draw attention to their claim that the government did not want to pay the millions of dollars owed for village land that was purchased for public infrastructure, including Salelologa wharf.

But Methodist minister, Reupena Esera, says getting on his knees with other pastors to beg matai to reconsider, worked.

His words are translated.

"All of us pastors gave our opinions, and together we begged village chiefs to reopen the road for the village and instead settle their grievance directly with the government."

Methodist minister Reupena Esera.

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says the village's land grievance is now going through the court.