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Cook Islands to build its first-ever elevator

Thursday 14 October 2021 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Local, National

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Cook Islands to build its first-ever elevator
Ministry of Justice building. GRAY CLAPHAM / 20050411

Funds have now been set aside for the installation of an elevator in the Ministry of Justice and Courthouse building in Avarua, confirmed the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC).

Once installed, it will become the country’s first ever elevator.

According to a statement from CIIC, build plans are currently being finalised and the project will soon be put out to tender, with an expectation that the elevator will be fully operational by the end of summer.

The statement also said the installation of an elevator was part of an increased commitment in recent years to improving accessibility to government buildings for all people.

The completion of this project was previously identified as a key performance target in the CIIC Statement of Corporate Intent 2021-2025 document compiled earlier this year and aligns with their stated vision of providing effective and efficient public assets that improve the wellbeing of the Cook Islands people, added the statement.

That vision is also supported by the Cook Islands National Sustainable Development Plan, with particular regard in this instance to the key National Development Goal of advancing the rights of youth, the elderly and disabled.

Tamatoa Jonassen, the Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, said he was “pleased to be working with CIIC to ensure all members of the public are able to access its services”.

The Ministry of Justice elevator project follows on from several new government builds which have taken the needs of the lesser abled into account, with the Pukapuka Hospital, the Atiu Courthouse, Constitution Park’s Albert Royale Henry Pavilion and the Office of the Prime Minister ICT building all having ramps installed at the time of construction, the statement said.

“While it has not always been so in the past, accessibility is now front of mind, imperative and mandatory with regard to the planning of government infrastructure today,” said CIIC chief executive Allan Jensen.

“And it is current CIIC policy that all new government buildings will have accessibility as a core requirement.”

That policy also extends to any renovations to existing buildings that CIIC might need to carry out in the course of its duties, with any accessibility issues to be addressed onsite – as was the case at the Tupapa Outpatient Clinic for example, where better ramp access, hand railing and parking was addressed, the statement said.

CIIC Associate Minister Albert Nicholas said: “I couldn’t be happier with the work CIIC has been doing lately to improve access to government buildings for our elderly and disabled, we all know there is a lot to do, and I am confident that we will deliver in the future.”

Nicholas also said that central to the new centralised Government building hub, Vaikapuangi, a key focus area for CIIC, will be about creating a one stop shop, fully accessible for all members of the public to access and engage effectively with the public service.