Work on the Avatiu Punanganui Market Bridge, which is prone to flooding, will start in February next year, says Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau.
The project, aimed at widening the bridge to improve the drainage system around it, will be carried out by Landholdings Limited.
The contract is worth $3.6 million and Tapaitau said the job was awarded to the Rarotonga-based construction company on Thursday.
The bridge, which usually gets blocked after a heavy rain from the debris flowing downstream, has caused much flooding in the area.
Families and business owners who were affected by last month’s flooding made renewed calls to government to fix the bridge.
Government this week also approved grants to assist with the household recovery of those who suffered from last month’s flooding.
Ten private properties suffered damage totalling $53,200 from torrential rain.
The flash floods in the Avatiu-Ruatonga district disrupted access to homes, businesses, roads, and shelters.
Cabinet earmarked the funds to the homes affected, to help the owners’ efforts to get their households back in order.
Avatiu-Ruatonga MP Albert Nicholas, who has also suffered repeated flood damage said: “I have lived here whole of my life and I have been in the middle of these floods my entire life. This is actually the first time any government has come forward to offer some kind of support.”
The Ministry of Finance assessed the affected areas and carried out two separate surveys targeting private dwellings and businesses in the affected zones.
Thirty households were interviewed. Five businesses responded to an online business survey, reporting damages of $218,500.
The grants were calculated by damage assessments, household income and payment of a proportion of total damages, to ensure impartiality and consistency in future events, the Finance ministry said.
With the increase in climate change events of this nature, in particular more intense rainfall and flooding, government was aware that it needed to develop support programmes to ensure that the community could quickly get back on its feet, said Finance minister Mark Brown.
“I believe this is the first time government has provided grants for events like this. The community can help government efforts by ensuring that we no longer place our rubbish nearby or in our streams to stop rubbish and other debris damming under bridges which is contributing to the flooding.”
Cabinet has also directed the Finance ministry to develop a national policy for weather-related damage relief funds that will also include support for businesses.