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Silence over rebuilds

Tuesday October 16, 2018 Written by Published in Local
There was no sign of any activity at the Bluesky Sports Arena yesterday. 18181270 There was no sign of any activity at the Bluesky Sports Arena yesterday. 18181270

There is still no word on when Chinese government projects to “refurbish” Rarotonga’s sports arena, the police headquarters and the Ministry of Justice building will go ahead.


The projects, which the government said earlier this year might involve almost complete reconstruction of the three buildings, was originally to have started in April.

However, by last month there had still been no progress and CIIC general manager Tamarii Tutangata told CINews that the delays were due to “internal issues”.

He said CIIC expected a start date would be agreed within “the next month or so.”

There was no sign of any activity at the Bluesky Sports Arena, which has already been closed down, when CINews called there yesterday morning.

The buildings were originally constructed by the Chinese government through their Overseas Development Assistance programme. It soon became apparent that there were problems with all of them, some due to faulty workmanship and others to poor quality materials that did not stand up to tropical weather conditions.

A visiting judge told CINews the Ministry of Justice building had suffered quality issues almost from the time it opened, with the air conditioning system, for example, seldom working. A system designed to transport elderly or immobile visitors to the main doors of the courthouse via “chairlift” on one of the stair rails worked for only a short time before it was shelved, and there were numerous other problems with the building.

The police headquarters suffered weatherproofing problems as well as other serious construction problems, and CINews was shown evidence of cracking in the outer walls of the sports arena.

In September Tutangata said the Chinese government had not yet completed internal processes necessary to enable the project to start.

“In addition, we have been working with the Peoples’ Republic of China government to strengthen the contract specifications to ensure that the project can be successfully completed,” he said.

“Our expectation is that a start date will be agreed within the next month or so.”

Earlier this year, Finance minister Mark Brown said the Chinese government was committing around $10 million towards the project.

He said the Cook Islands government had addressed the issue of the buildings’ substandard quality of construction with their Chinese counterpart.

When it does finally get underway, the refurbishment work will involve the temporary relocation of offices operating from these buildings.

It is understood that the Bluesky Sports Arena in Nikao is among sites being considered to house the Cook Islands Police Service when work starts on their Avarua building. There has been no confirmation on the alternative site for Ministry of Justice office.

The refurbishing programme, which will involve Chinese workers and some local contractors, is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete.

Yesterday CINews emailed questions to both Finance minister Mark Brown and Tutangata about the project, but by the time this newspaper went to print, had not received any answers.