An audio of the Prime Minister’s meeting in Niuatoputapu was provided by the Prime Minister’s office and transcribed and translated into English by Kaniva News. This English version of the audio had been abridged.
Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa told a meeting with Niuatoputapu residents that in 50 years no government had attended to the priorities they had reported to Parliament year after year.
He said these priorities were reported during the annual visits by Members of Parliament to their individual constituencies.
Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said before they came to Niuatoputapu, he did a research and he found out what these priorities were.
He shortlisted them into seven major needs which included roading, a wharf upgrade, safer drinking water, electricity, telephones, a request to widen and broaden the sea passage to Tafahi island and oversea markets for their crops, handicrafts and fishing.
The Prime Minister said he undertook to do his best to address all these urgent needs.
He said he was the first Prime Minister to visit Niuatoputapu and gave residents an opportunity to share their concerns and needs directly with him.
He invited the people to talk to him and said this was the government of the people.
He said his roading project had gathered momentum, although some people did not support it.
He said about three kilometres of road had been sealed in Niuatoputapu which meant 62 more kilometres remained to be filled and sealed.
He publicly denied allegations on social media which alleged the government had given away TP$3 million each to some cabinet ministers because of the government’s road project.
Hon. Tu’i’onetoa said the truth was these monies were part of a deal to buy rocks from ministers who owned quaries. He previously said there was nothing illegal about these deals.
When the floor was open for the people to speak, the government agent for Niuatoputapu said the sea entry to Tafahi was blocked by rocks which were pushed there by tropical cyclones. He said this had made it difficult for Tafahi residents to sail. When the tide was low no boat could sail through the passage, he said.
He asked the Prime Minister to install new signal ights so that vessels could dock at the wharf at night.
A building at the wharf was believed to have asbestos-containing material and he asked the Prime Minister to send experts to remove it.
There were also requests to upgrade and repair the foreshore, have solar power for the school and for the government to include Niuatoputapu in the government’s domestic animals donation project.