During question time in Parliament yesterday, Murienua MP James Beer asked about the journey after hearing Finance minister Mark Brown speak about it on radio.
“Could you please advise this house, did you find anything that needed to happen, or going to happen in terms of repairs, and when do you expect that to happen?” Beer asked.
Puna replied that the government had been concerned about the public comments about the state of the roads, which led him to travel around the entire island.
During the road Raro trip, he found that the roads behind the airport were in a sorry state, and the roads in Atupa, Tikioki, Avana by the CIIC church and near the Takitumu school in Matavera all needed some work.
“But I was very comforted to see the potholes in Titikaveka, particularly in Vaimaanga, had been fixed,” Puna said.
“And in fact the stretches of road that I mentioned Avana and Matavera, they aren’t too bad at all.”
However, he insisted that the roads needed attention before they got worse.
Puna said that after the drive he had a discussion with the deputy prime minister Teariki Heather (the minister of Infrastructure) and the secretary of Infrastructure Cook Islands (Ngametua Pokino).
“He (Heather) assured me that as we were meeting early yesterday afternoon, they were fixing the roads around the back of Nikao. So yes, those repairs have been attended to.
“I have to say that I paid particular attention to the reported pothole where Aunty Marjie had her unfortunate accident, and I was pleasantly surprised that there is no more pothole in that vicinity.”
The recent substantial rain, he said, has contributed to the state of the roads, and also included that ICI are now aware they need to inspect and fix any potholes that may crop after heavy downfalls.
“But I would still ask our people out there, when driving on the roads to take extra care, particularly in this weather and to look out for any potholes that may appear.”
Mitiaro MP Tangata Vavia next directed a question at Heather, asking if the quality of material used was appropriate, and if that was why there was an issue with the roads.
Heather said that it was not just the materials used on the roads, as ICI was battling history.
“We are aware that over the past 50 years we did not spend much effort in fixing our roads. And there are also the vehicles being brought into our country over the years,” Heather explained.
“If only the government of the past 10 years had started these projects, we would be miles ahead.”
He said that the current government had begun patching the roads since their tenure began seven years ago, and the only option moving forward was to continue with the patching.