The $13 million used in remedial work for Rarotonga’s water project will eventually be paid by the Chinese contractor, the government insists.
Finance Minister Mark Brown told Parliament yesterday that the New Zealand government had paid for the cost of replacing 17 kilometre of pipework – but ministers were determined to recover that cost from contractor China Civil Engineering Construction.
The Chinese company has been blamed for sub-standard work, contributing to ongoing delays to the troubled $90 million Te Mato Vai project.
Te Mato Vai dominated discussions during question time on the first day of Parliament at the Crown Beach Resort in Arorangi yesterday.
Ahead of the sitting, anti-chlorine group Te Vai Ora Maori presented a petition they said was signed by more than 1500 people opposing government’s plans to chlorinate Rarotonga’s drinking water. The petition was accepted by Clerk of Parliament Tangata Vainerere.
In Parliament, MPs from the Opposition Democratic Party probed Mark Brown on the project’s budget. They asked if the cost for remedial work would be added to the total budget.
Brown said the $13m used for replacing the pipework was separate from the $90m earmarked for the project aimed at delivering potable water. They were in talks with the contractor to refund the money used for the remedial work.
“Under the terms of the contract, the contractor must pay for that remedial work and at the moment we are in discussion in arbitration to ensure that we recover the cost of this remedial work,” Brown said.
“However we cannot wait for this arbitration process and we must carry out the remedial work because we have a timeline to ensure our water work is commissioned by the beginning of next year.
“The cost of remedy we are pursuing right now has been met through our arrangement with the New Zealand government at no additional cost to the people of this country.”