'Not near our schools'

Parents’ plea to make Makauri more truck-safe.

Parents’ plea to make Makauri more truck-safe.

SCHOOL'S CONCERN: A logging truck voluntarily slows down as it passes Makauri School. Picture by Liam Clayton

PARENTS and school board members at Makauri School have made a tearful and passionate plea for heavy trucks to be stopped from operating near schools during school hours.

The emotional plea was made at yesterday’s Gisborne District Council regular meeting, which started with a minute’s silence and a prayer to observe the death of six-year-old Carla Neems, who died in an incident involving a recycling truck near her home in Russell Street on May 2.

“The tragic death of Carla in our community recently has again shown the vulnerability of our schoolchildren,” Makauri School parent Robin Gardner told the council.

“I know we are not the only school in our region that has an issue with heavy trucks going past schools and this has been an ongoing issue for many years.

“But with the recent influx of heavy vehicle movements, which will only increase, the issue of heavy trucks using King Road, and going past Makauri School and Makauri Kindergarten, is one we feel needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Flashing lights

“Many other schools in the district have flashing lights warning of a school zone and a restricted speed limit of 40kmh.

“At Makauri School and kindergarten we have a 100kmh speed zone and multiple heavy vehicles going past at school drop-off and pick-up times.

‘‘On Monday, I documented three full, and one empty, logging trucks travelling past the school at 2.15pm and 3pm.

“That was after Hikurangi Forest Farms had given the school an assurance the week before that trucks would not use the road at that time.

“We need more than words — we need legal discourse, a bylaw stopping heavy trucks using the thoroughfare during school hours.”

It was pointed out that trucks could use Harper Road instead, if the corner was upgraded, or trucks could use Matawai Road.

‘‘Why are contractors coming back down King Road empty, when they could safely, within legislation, go back via Harper? Does it again come back to productivity and dollars?”

Other trucks

It was not just logging trucks. Stock trucks and other vehicles also passed the school, she said.

‘‘It’s not OK that there are no speed restrictions around our school. Where are our flashing signs? Our children deserve more. How many tragedies must there be before we realise things need to change? Our community cannot afford any more pain.”

Fellow parent Megan McKay said it was a double-pronged issue of heavy trucks and speeding vehicles.

“We need that speed limit reduced and we need those heavy vehicles off the road. An 18 to 20 metre unit going along within the legal road limit, would not even feel a child underneath its back axle.”

Makauri School board of trustees member Michelle Hall told the committee the board had approached road authorities previously and tried to reduce the speed limit — “to no avail”.

Mayor Meng Foon said the issue was very important.

‘‘Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will do our best to do what we can.”

PARENTS and school board members at Makauri School have made a tearful and passionate plea for heavy trucks to be stopped from operating near schools during school hours.

The emotional plea was made at yesterday’s Gisborne District Council regular meeting, which started with a minute’s silence and a prayer to observe the death of six-year-old Carla Neems, who died in an incident involving a recycling truck near her home in Russell Street on May 2.

“The tragic death of Carla in our community recently has again shown the vulnerability of our schoolchildren,” Makauri School parent Robin Gardner told the council.

“I know we are not the only school in our region that has an issue with heavy trucks going past schools and this has been an ongoing issue for many years.

“But with the recent influx of heavy vehicle movements, which will only increase, the issue of heavy trucks using King Road, and going past Makauri School and Makauri Kindergarten, is one we feel needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Flashing lights

“Many other schools in the district have flashing lights warning of a school zone and a restricted speed limit of 40kmh.

“At Makauri School and kindergarten we have a 100kmh speed zone and multiple heavy vehicles going past at school drop-off and pick-up times.

‘‘On Monday, I documented three full, and one empty, logging trucks travelling past the school at 2.15pm and 3pm.

“That was after Hikurangi Forest Farms had given the school an assurance the week before that trucks would not use the road at that time.

“We need more than words — we need legal discourse, a bylaw stopping heavy trucks using the thoroughfare during school hours.”

It was pointed out that trucks could use Harper Road instead, if the corner was upgraded, or trucks could use Matawai Road.

‘‘Why are contractors coming back down King Road empty, when they could safely, within legislation, go back via Harper? Does it again come back to productivity and dollars?”

Other trucks

It was not just logging trucks. Stock trucks and other vehicles also passed the school, she said.

‘‘It’s not OK that there are no speed restrictions around our school. Where are our flashing signs? Our children deserve more. How many tragedies must there be before we realise things need to change? Our community cannot afford any more pain.”

Fellow parent Megan McKay said it was a double-pronged issue of heavy trucks and speeding vehicles.

“We need that speed limit reduced and we need those heavy vehicles off the road. An 18 to 20 metre unit going along within the legal road limit, would not even feel a child underneath its back axle.”

Makauri School board of trustees member Michelle Hall told the committee the board had approached road authorities previously and tried to reduce the speed limit — “to no avail”.

Mayor Meng Foon said the issue was very important.

‘‘Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will do our best to do what we can.”

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