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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Jan. 17) – The Cook Islands Ports Authority is investing about US$1.2 million in capital equipment for Aitutaki this year including a new US$300,000 two-container capacity barge.

The barge, built by local company Raro Welding and Steel Construction, will be ready for delivery in February, following sea trials at Rarotonga.

Tenders have been called for a new 50-tonne crane, with tenders closing at the end of the month. The new crane will replace the old 30 tonne Omenga Crane which is 15 years old. The new crane will have better lifting capacity to handle heavier containers imported into Aitutaki. There is currently a six-month waiting time for new cranes because of strong worldwide demand. It is expected that the new crane will be working by September this year.

Concrete work on the apron at Arutanga Wharf is near completion. Work started in October last year and was done by local contracting company Maoate Contractors. The wharf area of over 500 square metres will be able handle the 24 tonne forkhoist which will be delivered this month and provide more space for container storage.

Ports general manager Andrew McBirney said tonnages have been increasing in Aitutaki over the past few years with over 580 containers processed through the port last year. "The new capital equipment will improve efficiency and reduce time spent by the Southern Express discharging containers in Aitutaki," he said. -

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