Swains faipule lays out a ‘road map’ for Swains and Manu’a transportation
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Swains faipule, Su’a Alexander Eli Jennings shared some thoughts regarding the issue of reliable transportation for Swains and the Manu'a islands. He noted that transportation is the lifeline to Swains Island, the Manu'a Islands, and even Aunu'u. “We cannot sustain social and economic development in our outlying islands without reliable Transportation,” he said.
Su’a shared this statement when Christopher King appeared before the House Port and Administration Committee for his confirmation hearing as the new Director for Port Administration where he was later approved by members of the House of Representatives in a vote of 18-0.
People, especially Manu'a and Swains Islanders are forced to alienate themselves from their lands and move to Tutuila against their will, which was not the intent of our forefathers in Manu'a when they signed the Deed of Sessions in 1904, and Swains Island in supporting the Joint Resolution of Congress making Swains Island part of American Samoa, Su’a told King.
He said the only way to fix the transportation problem to Manu'a and Swains is to develop regional shipping and air services. As the only U.S. Territory south of the equator with a $14M cargo/ passenger vessel capable of going anywhere in the Pacific, we are losing out on a great opportunity to build the port of Pago Pago into a distribution hub for U.S. goods and products.
“We have the largest natural harbor in the Region, which was essential to the U.S. Navy in the early years and continues to connect the Pacific to our local canneries,” according to the faipule.
“We must reach out to the Northern Cooks, Tokelau, and other Pacific Islands who expressed great interest in such ventures in the past, and get the process rolling. Otherwise, we will continue down this road till the MV Manu’atele has completely deteriorated like the MV. Sili due to the lack of funds to properly maintain it.”
In conclusion, he told lawmakers that despite great disappointment with the Port Administration in the past, he could think of no person better qualified to run the department than Mr. Chris King as Director.