The MWTI was established in May 2003 and incorporates activities that were previously undertaken by:
- Ministry of Transport (MOT).
- Ministry of Works (MOW).
- Ministry of Police and Prisons (MPP) -some activities only.
At that time (2003) the MWTI incorporated these activities with little structural change to the component parts that were absorbed from the above agencies.
The MOW, as it existed just before creation of MWTI in May 2003, had been created from the earlier Public Works Department (PWD) in October 2002. The reforms that accompanied its formation included reduction of staff, privatisation of some assets, and outsourcing of construction and maintenance activities.
A key aspect of those reforms was the outsourcing of services and to encourage the development of the private sector. A number of new private engineering companies were established. One of these, the Samoa Works Engineering Ltd (SWEL), was formed largely from ex PWD staff.
Prior to formation of the MWTI, vehicle registration and driver licensing were undertaken by the MPP. These activities were transferred to the TCB, which remains as an independent statutory board under the MWTI. The Police, under the MPP, were responsible for traffic enforcement and retained this responsibility after the creation of MWTI.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been progressively established from commercialized government agencies and enterprises over the past 20 years. An SOE is now set up as a Public Trading Body under the Public Bodies (Performance and Accountability) Act 2001 and Regulations 2002. They are managed by a Board and accountable to two shareholding Ministers -the Minister for Finance and the respective portfolio ‘Responsible’ Minister. The Samoa Shipping Corporation was established at an earlier time as a publicly owned company.
Of the current Public Trading Bodies, the transport related SOEs include:
- Accident Compensation Commission (ACC)
- Samoa Airport Authority (SAA)
- Samoa Ports Authority (SPA)
- Samoa Shipping Corporation (SSC)
The most recent structural changes to MWTI relate to the Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA). PUMA is a statutory authority with its own board and acting under enabling legislation. It had been created in 2004 as a division of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Meteorology (MNREM). In July 2005 PUMA was moved from MNREM to form a new division of the MWTI. However this decision was soon to be reversed and the PUMA functions and staff were transferred out of MWTI and back to MNREM with effect from 1 July 2006.