A Cook Islands company is understood to have been awarded the multi-million dollar contract to redo the pipework that was laid by the Chinese in stage one of Rarotonga’s water project.
Land Holdings Limited have reportedly bagged the contract following a closed tender that was also contested by McConnell Dowell of New Zealand.
The estimated cost of remedial work is valued at about $14 to $17 million.
The news emerges as the Chinese Ambassador, Her Excellency Wu Xi, visits Cook Islands to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
Financial secretary Garth Henderson declined to comment this week, saying they would reveal the details of the remedial work contract in a press statement next week.
Land Holdings Ltd and McConnell Dowell, which is completing stage two of the $90 million project, are said by sources to have been part of a closed tender process.
This process is allowed under the Public Procurement Policy, as they were the only two companies identified by the government as able to undertake work of this scope and quality.
Landholdings Limited, McConnell Dowell, and government’s Project Management Unit – which is overseeing Te Mato Vai project – all refused to comment. They referred queries to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.
But Land Holdings is advertising for jobs relating to pipework, including a drainlayer with polyethylene welding and ductile iron pipe assembly experience, excavators, loaders and trucks operators and labourers.
The work would involve replacing 17 kilometres of pipeline – about a third of the pipes laid by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. The total stage one project was valued at $25m.
An independent report released last year revealed the extent of sub-standard work delivered by the contractor. Infrastructure consultant Opus reported that materials used in stage one did not conform to required standards and that workmanship had been poor.
Government had meetings with the Chinese company and considered suing them, after initial negotiations to remedy the shoddy work failed.
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation dismissed the Opus report saying “the pipeline as is, has been built and tested, approved, paid for and accepted as completed”.
New Zealand earlier said they were happy for some of its regular development assistance – specifically, the $14 million earmarked for asset maintenance over the next three years – to be used on the repairs.
Garth Henderson earlier said the $10 million grant from China announced last year could be used to redo the pipework.