Cook Islands Police Commissioner James Keenan, Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) secretary Elizabeth Wright-Koteka and Ministry of Transport head John Hosking signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise standards for the construction and maintenance of roads including guidelines. MELINA ETCHES/23120604
Police, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) will be taking actions to better manage traffic in the Avarua town centre to reduce risks, improve pedestrian safety and experience as well as measures for public transport.
A road sign standard will be gazetted as required
under the amendment – section 114 of the Transport Act.
This week, Police Commissioner James Keenan, Secretary
for Transport John Hosking and Secretary for ICI Elizabeth Wright-Koteka signed
a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalise standards for the construction
and maintenance of roads, to adopt guidelines for the marking of roads, for
traffic control measures and signs, as well as parking.
Wright-Koteka said, based on their own observations
and in response to public concerns, that the upcoming improved measures in town
are just the beginning of making our communities safer.
She said the Infrastructure Act 2019 amended section 3
of the Transport Act 1966, by making the Police Commissioner and Secretary for ICI
responsible for developing protocols related to roads, traffic control and
signage, and parking.
“We actually already employ the use of some
international standards and guidelines but we are finally formalising practice
through this MoU,” Wright-Koteka said.
“We are also adopting and adapting other engineering
and road sign standards under the Infrastructure Act as it is currently
Commissioner Keenan said most vehicle accidents are
related to driver carelessness and poor judgement.
“We have a Transport Act that needs bringing into the 21st
century to recognise the changes in vehicle ownership, the modern lifestyle and
modern vehicles that are getting larger and faster,” he said.
The 2019 amendment to the Transport Act allows the
start of updating the transport related rules to reflect the occurrences of
“More work needs to be done of course and we continue
on that journey,” he added.
Hosking said Police and ICI are taking the right steps
moving forward, and he is looking forward to the road improvement changes.
In 2017, the Cook Islands ranked 18th in
the world for highest vehicle ownership with 689 vehicles per 1000 people,
surpassing countries like Canada and Germany, according to international data,
Samoa had 122.8, Fiji 120.6 and New Zealand had 783.3
registered vehicles per 1000 people.
“We could see high vehicle ownership as a symptom of
wealth but it is also a symptom of poor planning,” he said. “The result being
congestion and reduced road safety among many other societal and environmental
Hosking said that they will examine guidelines from
countries with valuable lessons learned to help manage the effects of high
vehicle numbers, particularly on Rarotonga, while ensuring these guidelines
adapt effectively to the Cook Islands context.