National Road and Roads Drainage Policy endorsed

4 July 2017

Roads and Road Drainage Policy endorsed by Cabinet


On the 12th of June, the National Roads and Road Drainage Policy 2017 developed by ICI was endorsed by Cabinet.  For Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI) this is a key milestone in giving effect to its Strategic Plan. 

ICI is working hard to achieve its Strategic Plan Outcome of the emergence of ICI as an empowered regulator, through the Strategic Goal of having an Enabling Policy and Planning framework in place. This outcome and goal will be achieved by developing and implementing national policies, and legislation which will formally mandate ICI to carry out its functions.  Although ICI is responsible for roads and other major infrastructure development and maintenance on Rarotonga and across the Cook Islands, it lacks legislation mandating many of its functions.  ICI currently only has legislated mandate for regulating building work, inspecting electrical installations and a 1960 Water Ordinance that needs much updating.

“The National Roads and Road Drainage Policy identifies issues and challenges in the Cook Islands related to ownership, construction and management of roads and the requirement to provide adequate road drainage, with a vision for a ‘fit for purpose road network’” says ICI Secretary, Ngametua Pokino“The purpose of the policy is to provide the basis for a mandate to maintain and construct roads for ICI and island Governments and provide guidance for planning, design and implementation of road construction, maintenance and  improvement programmes and activities” he adds.

This policy authorises the development of a Roads Master Plan and of associated legislation and regulations including an Infrastructure Act. The Act is intended to provide a legal mandate to ICI and Island Governments for matters contained in the approved Roads and Road Drainage Policy together with those contained in the previously approved Solid Waste Management Policy. This Act will be supported by Roads and Road Drainage Regulations, Subdivision Regulations, to ensure engineering input into subdivision design, and Solid Waste Management Regulations.

The policy took some months to get to a final draft form due to the need to construct the policy from first principles, with an initial draft developed by ICI staff, led by Volunteer Services Abroad Volunteer Charlie Inggs who is based with ICI as a Strategic Planner and Policy Adviser.  The Policy had to be developed from first principles as it is the first national roads policy for the Cook Islands. The policy was Inggs first priority, alongside the development of the first Strategic Plan, on joining ICI in October 2015. The first draft was then put out for stakeholder inputs in July 2016, following consultation on the Strategic Plan.  Stakeholders were keen to engage and provide input due to the importance of good roading infrastructure to economic and social development. The variety and scope of stakeholder inputs led to much reworking before formal public consultation in January 2017. 

Road drainage is now a recognised issue in the Cook Islands especially with the damage that poorly managed storm water can do to roading, land and the aquatic environment. “Initially, the policy was for roading only but ICI technical staff recognised the need for a holistic approach and insisted that road drainage be included in the title of the policy to highlight its importance”, says Inggs.  ICI has already replaced a number of ineffective storm drains with a new drainage system designed by ICI.

ICI looks forward to the implementation of the Policy and the further work to come.