Other damages such as oil spill, or spilling of aggregate or gravel on the roads during transportation from one location to another will result in notification from road manager Infrastructure Cook Islands to contractors to clean up their mess. It can also impose fines on them. Regulations, which are now under development, will specify the fine rates.
One of the leading local contractors, T&M Heather, welcomed the move “as long as it applies to everyone”.
Company operations manager Joseph Heather said they were not the only contractor in the country involved in heavy machinery works.
Heather said government departments operating heavy machines should also be fined if they were found to be damaging roads.
Infrastructure secretary Diane Charlie-Puna said there is a permitting process at the ministry for road cutting. She said this has been in place for years and utilities such as Te Aponga Uira and Bluesky must apply for road excavation permission.
However, she said there were still some that failed to apply for this permission.
Heather said they have been regularly updating their gear to ensure they comply with the standard required to operate in the country.
“For us it’s all about compliance because we are the ones carrying heavy stuff, transporting gear around the place, and we have to make sure we adhere to the rules that are in place,” he said.
“In saying that, I don’t think it will be fair for others to point fingers at us as we are not the only ones who are involved in heavy machinery work. There are others too, and we hope this new law also applies to them.”
Under the Act, the Infrastructure ministry is also responsible for notifying landowners or business owners to remove their signs outside of the road corridor and to cut back on trees on properties that are safety hazards to road users.
“Hedges overgrown onto the road … Infrastructure Cook Islands now have the mandate to consult the landowners to cut back their hedges and other obstructions,” Charlie-Puna added.