The Chamber of Commerce is still communicating with government regarding the Manatua Cable in spite of their differences of opinion over cost aspects, says the organisation’s president, Stephen Lyon.
The Chamber recently issued a statement criticising the Manatua Cable’s design. The statement claimed Manatua would supply broadband at a much higher cost than a new option involving installing a branch cable from American Samoa to the Manatua Cable.
However, the government’s response came in a press release last week announcing that it was going ahead as planned with the Manatua Cable project The release said that while supporters of the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority (ASTCA) had made an approach to the Cook Islands seeking support to consider a new branch cable from American Samoa, no formal offer from ASTCA with pricing details had been submitted for consideration.
“Concerns raised by the Chamber of Commerce on this proposal and the Manatua cable are being considered carefully and the government looks to further discussion on those issues,” the release said.
In an email to CINews, Lyon said the Chamber of Commerce was not satisfied that the government’s press release allayed all the concerns the Chamber had raised in its original statement.
This was particularly the case with costing for options now on the table with a connection that involved a branch to American Samoa connecting with Hawaiiki, he added.
“We are also concerned that potential conflict of interest issues regarding the fact that Samoa is both a member of and supplier to the Manatua consortium have not been sufficiently addressed.
“Government is privy to reports the Chamber has not seen and we are hopeful that (it) will share these in the interests of transparency and public interest, so that we may all make better informed decisions on the matter.
“We also hope government will take heed of these issues, and hold off any payment that will execute the cable-laying contract until such time as better dialogue and understanding takes place.”
Design flaws mean the plan to connect the Manatua cable through Samoa, using the Samoan-owned Tui Cable and Fiji, and then onto the Southern Cross cable will provide bandwidth to the Cook Islands at around $161 a month per Mbs for a 1Gbps lease for three years.
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