8 Feb 2014

Disagreement leads to delay in barge leaving for Pukupuka

10:10 am on 8 February 2014

In the Cook Islands, the hopes of a barge leaving for Pukapuka this weekend have been dashed by a last-minute disagreement over the cost of work materials.

The barge carrying machinery and workers to repair Pukapuka's runway was scheduled to leave Rarotonga in the next few days but it is now heading to Atiu first.

No planes can land on Pukapuka until the runway - which has been deemed unsafe by Air Rarotonga - has been repaired.

Infrastructure Cook Islands says the barge was on track to leave until leaders in Pukapuka asked the Ministry to pay for soil to be used in the project.

The Ministry's Yitiri Akama says that would cost a lot of money and they don't have the budget allocated for the extra costs.

Mr Akama says the barge will leave for Atiu this weekend and return next week, and he hopes the disagreement will be resolved by then so the barge can head up to Pukapuka.

Cook Islands news reports the delay means a group of teachers hoping to head to Pukapuka will have to remain on Rarotonga.

And a group of teachers stranded on Pukapuka will remain there until the runaway is fixed.