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Lack of coordination between utility providers ‘putting pressure on our people’

Monday 18 December 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National, Parliament

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Lack of coordination between utility providers ‘putting pressure on our people’
Minister for Infrastructure Cook Islands and Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) Albert Nicholas. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23121377

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed by four major utility companies in the coming weeks, confirmed Albert Nicholas, Minister for Infrastructure Cook Islands and Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC).

Nicholas was responding to questions in Parliament raised last week by Akaoa MP Robert Heather of the Cook Islands United Party, who specifically inquired about the trenches being dug up by various companies around Rarotonga.

Nicholas said each utility company had their own policy and compliance standards.

He said there was a service coordination committee which was formed in 2019 comprising of utility companies To Tatou Vai (TTV), Te Aponga Uira (TAU), Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) and Vodafone Cook Islands.

“This committee meets every fortnight to discuss new developments, upcoming work, future plans and any issues or changes.”

Nicholas acknowledged the concern raised by Heather that there seems to be no coordination between Vodafone, TAU, TTV and ICI.

“And I understand his concern because at the end of the day, all the excess cost puts pressure on the end user or the customer,” the Minister said.

“This lack of coordination is putting pressure on our people after all why have two trenches when one would suffice.”

Nicholas said he has been informed about a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the agencies that aims to formally document many of the improved processes and coordination efforts regarding trenching, spacing requirements, service line placement, and future costs.

However, he expressed uncertainty about whether this agreement would be effectively implemented in the future.

Nicholas emphasised that it would be his responsibility to ensure the MoU is applied effectively and leads to lower costs for the people.