The public has weighed in on Samoa’s capital development plan for the new waterfront development project. The waterfront project aims at developing a full plan that will “guide development and growth of the waterfront, creating an attractive urban environment that will boost Samoa’s economy and well-being. The plan will be built from community and stakeholders input and feedback, as well as agreed guiding principles and values. It is an initiative by the Government of Samoa and the Samoa Tourism Authority with New Zealand funding.
Nevertheless, the public want to ensure that the project planning team looks into the inclusion of Samoa’s culture and history of the surrounding area into their plans. Businessman, Papali’i John Ryan, says, “Culture and history are very important features that make Samoa unique, and tourists would like to experience and see culture performed and demonstrated.” He also said that rather than taking tourists to experience culture out in the villages, the aumaga of Apia and nearby villages can perform the culture right here on the waterfront.
However, there are some concerns that need to be addressed before development begins. One of these is the rubbish that is swept down to the waterfront area, and asked the team to upgrade the drainage system. Other businessmen were more concerned of the low coastal areas which are easily affected by the climate changes.
Additionally, others have questioned if consultation with villages such as Apia, Vaiala and Matautu have been done. They say that without the support from these villages, the project will never be a success. Businesswoman, Vaasilifiti Moelagi Jackson, expressed, “I always believe that in such a project, whoever is involved should look at the population of the village of Apia, and they should be the first people to be consulted with the plan and structure, because if they know they own the project, they will protect and respect it.”
The project’s principal officer, Faumuina Ferila Brown, said consultation was done with the Apia village chief Seumanutafa and mayor Tuiletufuga Siaosi. But, residents feel they should have called a meeting with the whole village. In fact, it is encouraged that anyone who has a story to tell about the waterfront to submit it so they can include them in documents promoting the project.
Overall, the project’s Steering Committee’s vision is to put the City of Apia on the world map as a unique and exciting Pacific destination. “The waterfront from Vaiala to Mulinu’u represents a vibrant necklace of activities that are all interconnected. It showcases Apia’s natural and built environment, history, heritage, culture and arts in an informative manner with supporting social and economic activities.” The guiding principles include:
- Economically Sustainable: includes support for existing and new businesses opportunities and also to improve the areas where people congregate in multitude, such as the bus terminal, port and marina, fish market and tourism activities areas.
- Sociable Spaces: support safe community use & development of the waterfront and the connectivity & accessibility of the waterfront for social activities.
- Sustainable Environment: Encourage appealing values for the waterfront & provide attractive green spaces with authentic Samoan experiences.
- Sustainable Infrastructure: develop quality infrastructure to allow connectivity to and from the waterfront including walkways, footpaths, roads, drainage, seawall repairs, lightning & climate change resilient infrastructure.
- Strong Partnership: develop relationships with partners that share the vision & values for the common good and to encourage ownership of the waterfront.
Exciting times are ahead for the wonderful and friendly capital town of Apia, Samoa.