Translated from FaaSamoa. The answer to the rising cost of imported goods, is for Samoa to invest in its own cargo ship.
That was the definitive position presented by the Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI) Hon Olo Afoa Fiti Vaai, in Parliament this week.
Olo was giving his official Ministerial response to questions raised in the Maota during the Supplementary Budget debate earlier this week.
In response to questions around the high cost of living, the Minister confirmed what importers have been facing since Covid lockdowns – that freight costs have gone through the roof.
“The reason for the high cost of imported goods, is freight,” said Olo.
“So the only solution to the rising cost of freight across the globe, is for Samoa to have its own cargo ship”.
The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure says this is also position of the MWTI Ministry. The Minister says the MWTI management (pulega) have completed an assessment and survey.
According to the Minister, the feasibility of such a national investment for the country has already been considered by MWTI and a recommendation paper is being prepared for submission to Cabinet.
The Minister went on the state the cost of containers in Parliament.
As an example Olo said a 20″ container used to SAT $3,900, however, they are now in the vicinity of SAT $7,850.
“A 40ft container that used to cost $9,000 tala, is now SAT $13,280,” reiterated Samoa’s Transport Minister.
Another huge benefit to this proposal, said Olo, is that Samoa has a high capacity of maritime personnel.
“The ship would be captained and staffed by our own people,” said Olo.
“That is another benefit to this solution, to provide work for our sailors.”
As air and land Transport Minister, Olo Fiti Vaai is also the Minister for State Owned Samoa Shipping Services whose core business is to provide employment for Samoa’s seafarers on board international vessels. SSS has been a long time supplier of the Mediterranean Shipping Company – MSC.
Olo is also the Minister for State Owned Samoa Shipping Corporation (SSC) whose core function is to provide ferry and marine shipping support services between Samoa’s two main islands, and American Samoa.
SSC provides the only passenger and freight services between the two Samoa’s on the Lady Naomi. The latest upgrade of the vessel is the Lady Naomi 60 provided by the Government of Japan for SAT $66.74 million tala commissioned last year as part of Samoa’s 60th Independence celebrations.