Policy programme officer Solomona Solomona said ICI had already issued a “request for tender” for the purchase and supply of building materials for the project.
Shelters would be constructed on the islands of Manihiki, Mauke, Rakahanga, Penrhyn, and Pukapuka, he said.
“The building materials will be used to construct shelters to house and protect the newly acquired, Chinese-supplied heavy machinery from the elements and thus prolong its economic life beyond the expected lifespan.”
He said existing machinery shelters were inadequate to accommodate the new machinery. ICI was also looking into the possibility of extending the project to other islands including Palmerston, Atiu, and Mangaia, subject to the availability of funds.
Project manager Mac Mokoroa said that back in February last year, the Cook Islands Government received $6.5 million worth of heavy machinery to assist with airport maintenance, road maintenance, infrastructure work, agricultural and community development projects on each of the outer islands.
One of the shortcomings identified and raised by some of the outer islands was the lack of proper storage sheds to store the Chinese machinery and other machinery that had been on the islands for some time.
When the machinery arrived on Rarotonga, there was wide criticism of the concept of each island having its own equipment, with some commentators saying that the machines would quickly deteriorate in the salty conditions and would eventually be left to rust away, like donated machinery before it.
However, Mokoroa said each of the outer islands had their own infrastructure development projects: for instance, Aitutaki had a road sealing programme and was now awaiting the arrival of a bitumen truck and mobile sealing kettle to get the project under way.
The mobile sealing kettle is a holding tank with burners on wheels and is used to heat up asphalt (bitumen) to a liquefied form before transferring it into the bitumen sprayer truck’s holding tank during road sealing works.
Having a mobile kettle would allow ICI to help the Pa Enua with road sealing projects, as it could be shipped to the outer islands and returned whenever required.
Atiu had an ongoing airport upgrade project and Mangaia, Mitiaro and Mauke had water supply projects that were currently awaiting materials before they could go ahead, Mokoroa said.
These projects did not include the solar energy projects and other programmes that were currently being implemented for the Southern Group.