Major accessibility issues at the Ministry of Justice building in Rarotonga, especially for the elderly and disabled will finally be addressed as work begins on the building’s new lift project.
A ground breaking ceremony to mark commencement of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Building Lift Project was held on Monday 20 February.
Landowner Makea Karika George Ariki, Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) Minister Albert Nicholas, Ministry of Justice Secretary Tamatoa Jonassen and representatives from the Cook Islands Disability Council took part in the sod turning.
Cook Islands Investment Corporation Minister Albert Nicholas says he was delighted to be part of the ground breaking ceremony recognising the beginning of a significant project, which will address a major need and ensure the infrastructure is fit for purpose and serves all people effectively.
“The Ministry of Justice building in Rarotonga has major accessibility issues affecting access to public services, accessibility issues to our justice system and accessibility of employment opportunities for people with disabilities and the elderly,” Mr Nicholas says.
“This problem has existed since the building was completed in 2004.”
For many years, the Cook Islands Government, and the wider community, including the Cook Islands National Disability Council have voiced their concerns about the lack of easy, safe and effective access to the building.
During early consultations between CIIC, MoJ and other key stakeholders held in November 2021, it was agreed that an enclosed passenger lift be constructed, together with appropriate toilet facilities for the disabled.
The project went to tender in May 2022 and in July last year, Phoenix Elevators Ltd, a specialist lift supplier/installer from New Zealand with vast Pacific Island experience, was awarded the Stage 1 (design) contract.
The final design, specifications, work allocation, location and costs were decided in December 2022, and subsequently approved for implementation by the CIIC Board of Directors.
Landholdings Ltd, a local contractor has also been engaged to work alongside the contractor to construct the lift shaft structure.
It is anticipated that the new passenger lift will be ready for commissioning in August this year.
Minister Nicholas says addressing these accessibility concerns has been, and remains a priority for the Ministry of Justice and Cook Islands Investment Corporation.
“This project has taken a number of years to plan and secure funding and it is pleasing that we are finally getting this project, excuse the pun – off the ground.”
Enquiries to Jaewynn McKay