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Deadline for campaigns to comply with American Samoa signage law has come — and gone

Fuiavaili’ili Keniseli Lafaele

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Commerce Department has informed political campaign teams not only to remove their campaign signs from government property but also those posing a traffic hazard on the road, says DOC director Fuiavaili’ili Keniseli Lafaele in response to Samoa News inquiries.

Asked if he has met with campaign committee representatives to discuss the signage law and removing their signs from government property, Fuiavailiili said, yesterday that “We have met with representatives of campaign teams and they were made known of the requirements of the signage law.”

He confirmed that DOC “has duly informed all camps to remove not only signs on government property but those obstructing a view of oncoming vehicles from either side — and for safety — within inches of utility poles and fire hydrants — hazards, and those interfering with the natural beauty and attractiveness of American Samoa — generally those on the ocean side of the road and certain locations mountain side of the roads.”

Asked when DOC will enforce the removal of campaign signs from government property, Fuiavailiili responded,  “All camps have made some effort to comply — in varying degree of compliance — with some more than others.”

“Since communication regarding the signage law was delivered to all camps, new signs continue to pop up without permits,” he explained. “The time given to comply expired last Thursday, so we are in the enforcement phase of this process.”

“All have yet to apply for permits for after the fact signs or new signs,” he pointed out.

He also said that in “some instances, I was informed by some camps that they have made the effort to remove their signs but were stopped by families who requested signs to be located there regardless whether its government land i.e. Pago Pago Park land — which is government owned, fronting the road to Fagasa.”

“So there are issues to be sorted out but I trust that in the end the law of the land will prevail peacefully as most if not all who are running for office and respective key supporters are government leaders or law makers,” he added.

Early last month, DOC started a public awareness program on KVZK-TV discussing the government requirement for obtaining permits in accordance with local law, which regulates signage including campaign signs.

At last month’s cabinet meeting, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga informed Fuiavailiili that it had been 30-days since instructions were give for DOC to remove campaign signs on government property and nothing had been done. He told the DOC director to move forward with enforcement of local law on these signs.