The general manager of the Cook Islands Port Authority, Nooroa (Bim) Tou says progress has been slow as the marina awaits an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval to allow maintenance dredging.
At present, there are safe moorings for yachts visiting Aitutaki, provided that they fit the size requirements.
“Moorings are safe but there are some limitations depending on the size of the yacht, due to depth restrictions in some areas of the Arutanga Harbour channel,” Tou said.
The marina plan was titled the Aitutaki Orongo Development Project and was a joint venture between the Cook Islands Ports Authority and the Aitutaki Island Council.
One of the project’s main aims involved deepening and widening the existing Arutanga harbour channel and basin to allow yachts and cruise ship tenders to safely berth, as well as accommodating inter-island shipping.
Aitutaki’s tourism revenue is expected to receive a boost once the project eventually is completed, as the marina at the front of the island’s fishing club allows for up to 200 yachts to berth.
Accommodating the marina involved demolishing the old Orongo Centre building which was severely damaged in Cyclone Pat which devastated the island in 2010.
No completion date has been put on the ambitious $15.5 million project, but it is listed among the top 10 most important investment plans in the government’s infrastructure investment plan. However, at this stage the plan is to stage the project over five to 10 years.
At the time of the announcement, many locals condemned the decision, believing that it would ruin the natural beauty of the island.