Taio Shipping Managing Director Tapi Taio says he has two vessels in their fleet that can handle 200 tonnes each, the Lady Moana and Grinna. Both are well-suited for shipping to the outer islands. (PHOTO: EMMANUEL SAMOGLOU) 20112008
As shipping delays stall a controversial construction project in the outer island of Penrhyn, one local shipping firm is questioning why his company wasn’t approached for their services. Emmanuel Samoglou reports.
construction of two cyclone shelters on the island of Penrhyn is not expected
to begin until next year, with the project’s contractor citing the global
Covid-19 pandemic as the reason.
this year, local company Civil Contractors Limited was awarded a $5.3 million
contract to construct two multi-story masonry cyclone centres in the villages
of Omoka and Te Tautua on the northern group island.
before construction has begun, the project has been embroiled in controversy
with the political Opposition and members of the public calling for an
investigation by the Cook Islands Audit Office and the Public Expenditure
Review Committee (PERC).
holdup has been attributed specifically to the delayed delivery of a barge from
Australia, which the contractor has procured to assist with the delivery of
equipment and supplies to Penrhyn.
some have questioned why the company went ahead with the purchase of a barge
from an overseas company, when one prominent local shipping company says it’s
capable of taking on the job, but was never approached for its services.
Civil Contractors Limited – a relative newcomer to the local construction
sector which is believed to have been formed in July 2019 – it says the barge
is expected to arrive “… within the next fortnight”.
tendered for the Penrhyn Island Cyclone Shelter project well before COVID19 was
an event, and as has occurred globally, the pandemic has affected the efforts
of our logistical supplier in securing and delivering the barge in the time
that was expected,” reads a company statement sent to Cook Islands News.
successful tender bid provided for adequate logistics that could deliver heavy
plant, equipment and materials safely to shore and within a budget, to the two
islands in Penrhyn.”
to the statement, Civil Contractors director and project manager Mark Ford is
expected to travel to Penrhyn “in the next few weeks, and to finally get this
Cook Islands Secretary Diane Charlie-Puna said construction is expected to
begin in mid-January.
said material has already been procured by the company and is in Rarotonga
awaiting for transport. “Between the time the barge arrives to mid-January
there will be several trips by barge to mobilise equipment, machinery,
personnel, building material,” she said.
there is no ship or barge big enough to mobilise this project,” she added.
Taio, managing director of Rarotonga-based Taio Shipping, said his company is
well-suited to participate in such a project, yet were never approached by CCL.
are new, we’ve never seen them here,” Taio said.
one of the unsuccessful tenderers for the Penrhyn project with prior
construction experience in the outer islands approached Taio Shipping to act as
a subcontractor, requesting to quote for shipping 1000 tonnes of material and
equipment. Ultimately that company lost out to Civil Contractors.
Shipping has two vessels in their fleet that can handle 200 tonnes each, the
Lady Moana and Grinna, he said. He said he could transport 1000 tonnes in a
month, based on a return trip to Penrhyn taking seven days.
said the company previously assisted with the transportation of materials and
equipment for the construction of a cyclone shelter in Pukapuka.
month, Ford told this newspaper that Civil Contractors has received advance
payment as per their contract with Infrastructure Cook Islands to start the
project, however it is not known how much the company has been paid thus far.
Charlie-Puna did not answer questions regarding how much public money from the
$5.3 million contract has been forwarded to the company to-date.
call demanding for an investigation last month, Opposition leader Tina Browne
questioned “… whether very significant payments have already been made to the
contractor before the commencement of any work on the Penrhyn buildings.”
source close to the matter said project talks were recently held with officials
from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management. During those talks, it is
alleged one ministry official said the government was considering assisting
with CCL’s costs to deliver the barge to Rarotonga.
Taio, he said he had no issue being left out of the project and watching Civil
Contractors sort out its shipping needs independently.
happy if the money is coming from their pocket,” he said.