“We’ve sourced the materials that we need locally but, unfortunately, it’s been difficult for our suppliers.
So now we are engaging someone who’s looking outdoors. We want the appropriate tiles fit for the purpose of the court and so we have to source outdoor tiles from New Zealand.”
She said CIIC might be able to get the materials in four to six weeks’ time.
Earlier this year, CI News ran several stories about the courthouse steps after receiving complaints about how slippery they were and how difficult it was for elderly people to use them without an adequate handrail.
The tropical climate has had a detrimental effect on the building and CIIC has revealed that materials used by the Chinese contractors in 2004 were unsuitable for Rarotonga’s climate.
Poila said CIIC had no specific timeline as to when the work at the Ministry of Justice would be completed.
“Ideally we would love to purchase them (materials) locally, but they’re not readily available so it’s really hard to say how soon we can get there. But we’re hoping within the next four weeks.”
In the meantime, CIIC asks the public to be patient and to not enter the construction area. Access is temporarily through the back of the building.
Problems with the courthouse building and the Cook Islands Police Service headquarters, also built by the Chinese, have been long-running. Earlier this year, CIIC chief executive Tamarii Tutangata said the corporation was aware of “maintenance issues” in the courthouse and was taking action to remedy them.
“Some of the materials used were unsuitable for our climate, which is obvious, and we have replaced some of them and will continue to do so within the resources that are available to us.
“We can say that our officials at that time should have been more careful about the materials used on the building.”
According to estimates published last year, repairs to the courthouse and the police station could cost more than $800,000.