Wilkie Rasmussen: New bridge ‘smells of payback’

Friday January 17, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor
Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau, left, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown and Avatiu-Ruatonga MP Albert Nicholas on Avatiu Punanganui Market Bridge. Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau, left, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown and Avatiu-Ruatonga MP Albert Nicholas on Avatiu Punanganui Market Bridge. 19122030

Dear editor, As a Cook Islander, I am deeply concerned about the priority status given to the Avatiu Market Bridge replacement project.

 

The project came out of the blue as it does not have the historical background calling for it to be replaced – well, at least not as far back as the shipping pleas by the Outer Islands, or the re-sealing of our roads to an acceptable and lasting standard.

It appears that because of the flooding that took place on two occasions around the existing bridge areas in recent history, the Government was able to pluck out more than $3 million dollars to have the bridge replaced.

And yet the bridge does not seem to be faulty, it is more blockage of the water flow from inland that has caused the flooding. That's where the remedial work should be focused instead of the bridge.

It is now a known fact that most of the ancient and natural streams and water channels from the mountains to the sea have been filled with debris or have been built over.

That’s where engineers should focus on, finding ways which inland water can flow uninhibited to the sea. We recently saw flooding in Muri, it is exactly because the diversions created were incompatible to the natural flow of water from higher grounds to the lower areas and to the sea.

I believe this is a contrived project. It is conceived to keep the Avatiu MP Albert Nicholas happy after being dumped as a Minister of the Crown and not reappointed as a Minister after the general elections of 2018.

Remember Albert Nicholas jumped vaka from the Democrats to join the Cook Islands Party Government after the 2014 elections, specifically seeking a ministerial portfolio.

The irony is at that time, the Cook Islands Party had more members in it than the nine MPs it currently has, buoyed by the four independents.

This projects smells of political payback, a costly favour for continuous support from Albert Nicholas.

The payback first appeared in compensation to homes and businesses affected by the flood. While this is commendable, the public have no idea how that process was calculated and what criteria had to be met to warrant a claim.

There was no clear process of accountability to the public of why they were paying for it and where/who their funds were paid to.

Wilkie Rasmussen
Ex-MP for Tongareva

Bluesky connected us, now Vodafone can too

Thank you Bluesky for the service you did give me while I was there for the month that we were in Aitutaki.

I am both thankful and grateful to have been able to speak to, share my staycation, and all my experiences while we were there,

So now I look forward to the services from the new provider “Vodafone”.

Thank you and farewell

Kimi Gataulu

 

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