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Commercial ocean service dedicated for Manu’a, Aunu’u and Tutuila

MV Talitiga
reporters@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — MV Talitiga was dedicated last week, Friday, May 10, 2024, at the Inter-island Wharf in Fagatogo. Paramount Builders Company, which owns the vessel that will offer commercial service along the route between Manu'a, Aunu'u, and Tutuila. The local company is owned by Papali’i Lauli’i Alofa. Unconfirmed reports say the vessel was bought out of Indonesia, and sailed to American Samoa.

Hosted by Paramount Builders, the vessel dedication ceremony included Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga, who gave special remarks thanking Papali’i and his family for providing a vital service for Manu’a. He emphasized the role that the private sector should play in serving the people of American Samoa, and not rely only on government.

Manu’a has long had transportation issues, not only for passengers but also cargo. The Manu’a islands basically depend on goods from Tutuila to supplement its food security issues, including fuel, i.e. diesel, gas and kerosene. Travel to and from the islands has also been problematic due to the high cost of transportation, both cargo and passengers.

MV Talitiga seems to be an answer to the problem, although cost of a ticket and cargo has not been made public to date.

Paramount Builders owner with his wife also recently acquired Pacific Air Charters Inc., a FAA certified Part 135 air carrier — known locally as Pago Wings — to service Manu’a, as well as eventually provide flights to Samoa. In January of this year, trial flights were performed to Manu’a. However, no further official update has been provided by the company of its success or not to provide flights.

Samoa Airways, owned by the government of Samoa, was the only airline servicing Manu’a, at the time of Pago Wings trial.

Papali’i was also the owner of a vessel and barge purchased by the local government in 2020. The ASG purchases were to help cargo being shipped to Manu’a — especially for major government projects for wharves and airports, including ASPA supplies. Unfortunately, the purchase price was met using CARES Act funds, which the Inspector General’s Office of the US Treasury rejected and required ASG to reimburse the federal funds, which they did. It was part of the $36 million the Lemanu Administration used without Fono approval. No update has been provided by ASG as to the vessel, the MV Pago Pago, and barge — whether they continue to be seaworthy and in-service. 

[Facebook photo]