In light of recent media reports concerning the sealing of the Punanga Nui Market in 2017, the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) would like to clarify a few matters regarding this project.
While CIIC is currently responsible for managing the Punanga Nui Market, it was not placed under our jurisdiction until 2018, the year following the sealing works in question.
As the current owner and manager of Punanga Nui Market, CIIC has entered into discussions with a number of market vendors to determine their view of how the sealing works were carried out and the general response indicates that the investment was supported and appreciated by vendors, both at the time the works took place and at present.
More specifically, longtime market vendor and Punanga Nui stalwart Mrs Mii Quarter put forward the following key points in favour of the market sealing:
- The sealed surface makes the market more hygienic for food vendors, especially in wet weather, as before the sealing works were carried out pools of muddy water would accumulate amongst the stalls. The sealed surface is also less prone to flooding than before.
- The sealed surface allows for better spacing of vendors and easier organisation of stall space.
- Generally speaking, the sealed surface has helped create a more pleasant environment at the market for both vendors and customers alike, especially those with young families.
While it appears that at the time the sealing works were carried out, due process was not correctly followed with regard to tendering of the project, CIIC understands that the market sealing was added on to extensive road sealing work already being done around the town area in 2017.
The relatively small area to be sealed at the market would have cost significantly more than the eventual $274,000 price tag had it been put to tender as a separate project, due to the obvious economies of scale inherent in having the market sealing done at the same time as the more extensive sealing work that was already going on.
The end result was that this vital and necessary piece of work was completed much sooner and at far less cost than would have otherwise been the case.
It has now been four years since the sealing work was done and as a result the market is a much cleaner, safer and more customer-friendly environment than before, leading CIIC to believe that this was money well spent.
However, with regard to the lapse in due process being followed, CIIC would like to assure the public that since assuming control of the Punanga Nui Market in 2018, we have now put in place much more robust protocols and practices.
Our governance and management structure has seen people in relevant positions of responsibility at CIIC and across the various CIIC entities attend courses in better governance and management and we believe our current practices to be solid and sound.