Deputy prime minister and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) minister Teariki Heather visited Aitutaki last Friday to officially hand over a heavy vehicle trailer to the Aitutaki island government.
The trailer can carry up to 26 tonne machinery, with a length of 14.5m and a width of 3.2m.
It has two rear axles and one at the front. Two ramps are fitted at the back, powered by a battery hydraulic system.
ICI corporate director Diane Charlie said that in December, after the handover ceremony for 35km of sealed roads in Aitutaki, Amuri-Ureia MP Toa Isamaela had made a request to prime minister Henry Puna and his cabinet ministers for a heavy vehicle trailer, asking for it to be provided to the island “sooner, rather than later”.
Isamaela wanted the trailer to allow the island government to transport their heavy machinery around Aitutaki, avoiding damage to their newly-constructed and sealed roads. There were already plans in place to request for a trailer for Aitutaki in the 18/19 budget process.
“However, coinciding with Isamaela’s request, the Atiu island government’s heavy vehicle trailer landed in Rarotonga, awaiting shipment to the island,” said Charlie.
“ICI secretary Ngametua Pokino asked Atiu mayor Upokoina Mokoroa and the island council for their approval to have this trailer presented to Aitutaki island government.
“The request was supported and approved by cabinet, Mokoroa and the council, as well as cabinet minister Nandi Glassie.
“ICI has requested a replacement trailer for Atiu in its new budget bids to replace Atiu’s trailer that was shipped to Aitutaki last week.”
Atiu’s road sealing project is planned to start in the 2018/19 financial year, and aggregates production is a current priority.
“ICI expects the stockpile to be ready before the work begins,” Charlie said.
She said the arrangement between the two islands regarding the trailer was simply a timing issue. “As Aitutaki roads are sealed the island has been given this trailer, and its replacement will come in time for when Atiu’s road is sealed.”
It is hoped the trailer will be delivered before the road sealing project for Atiu is completed.
The handover ceremony for the trailer was attended by members of the community and Pokino, who accompanied the deputy prime minister.
“This gift from government was received by the deputy mayor Terepoto Terepoto and island council members and the people of Aitutaki,” said Charlie. The function was held at the Orongo Centre. The official blessing of the trailer was performed by Rev Tuakeu Daniel, followed by an island feast prepared by the Aitutaki Sharks rugby league team.