Parliamentarian Albert Nicholas says he has pledged his support to Prime Minister Henry Puna in return for replacement of Avatiu bridge which has caused numerous flooding in the area.
Nicholas, the MP for RAPPA, acknowledged claims the $3.6 million bridge was a government’s favour to him, and that he’d made a deal to support the government in exchange.
Every MP’s sworn duty was to their constituents, to fix problems like these.
“If one has to wheel and deal with the government of the day to bring issues of this nature to halt and fix it once and for all, I believe they have to do it and I have,” Nicholas said.
“I have pledged my support to the Prime Minister in return for that bridge being done.”
Nicholas, the former Internal Affairs minister, was sacked from Cabinet in 2018 without explanation, while overseas for health reasons.
He said he did not make any ruckus over the issue and instead looked at other ways to bring support to his constituency.
“I was a minister once upon a time and now I’m just an ordinary MP. I guess I could have made trouble about it, I could have caused headaches for the Prime Minister about it but it’s not in my nature to be that sort of individual,” the no-nonsense MP said.
“Instead I have looked at other options that can be beneficial for the wider community and this is one of the issues I have looked at. The attention to our flooding issues and concerns would suffice for me to carry on supporting the Prime Minister of the day.”
The bridge has caused some major flooding to businesses and homes, including Nicholas’ own, for the past several decades.
Calls to have it fixed have fallen on deaf ears until late last year when successive flooding and appeal from the MP and the people prompted government to replace the bridge.
The government also approved grants to assist with the household recovery of those who suffered from November 2019 flooding. Thirty households were interviewed. Five businesses responded to an online business survey, reporting damages of $218,500.
Landholdings Ltd, which is undertaking the construction of the bridge, last week started working on this project.
“About 30 homes and some businesses have suffered a lot over the past years. My family and other families living in that area have lost their washing machines, freezers, motorbikes. It’s not nice hopping off your bed and stepping into some mud in your bedroom,” Nicholas said.
“I want to thank the government of the day, especially the Prime Minister Henry Puna, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown and Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau because pretty much in the last so many years of self-government, they are the only ones that have really taken the initiative to deal with this problem.”