Urgent need for large step-up in funding for our road network

EDITORIAL

The poor state of this district’s roads will become a serious indictment on central and local government if the outcome of a review of our transport needs this year does not see a large financial commitment and action to start remedying the situation.

They are already under increased scrutiny because the first ever partnership between a council and the New Zealand Transport Agency, Tairawhiti Roads, appears to be failing due to underfunding. Compounding its inability to carry out needed repairs is a failure to even communicate after road problems are called in, according to frustrated Ngatapa residents at a meeting on Thursday night.

Efficiency gains in the vast Network Outcome Contracts that began in October 2015 delivered savings to local and especially central government — $4.6 million over five years for the council and $12.1m for the NZTA, on contracts worth a combined $130m — and now a worsening road network.

One indication of that is reports from log truck operators that their costs have gone up 10 to 15 percent in the past year because of increased wear-and-tear, due to deteriorating road conditions.

One of the key “efficiencies” in the NOCs is an allowance to stretch repair and maintenance work, meaning jobs build up more in an area and can be combined. Not surprisingly that is proving to be a false economy.

The NOCs are failing along with our roads, at a time when this region urgently needs the network to be made more robust.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of economic development are being tied up because our roads are not fit for purpose.

Central government committed about $8m to various initiatives here when it launched the region’s economic action plan earlier this year, and Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges described that as a downpayment on what would come following the transport review. With an election coming up, now would be a good time to press him for a figure.

A Labour government would reinstate our rail line south, what commitment will it give to strengthening our road network?

The poor state of this district’s roads will become a serious indictment on central and local government if the outcome of a review of our transport needs this year does not see a large financial commitment and action to start remedying the situation.

They are already under increased scrutiny because the first ever partnership between a council and the New Zealand Transport Agency, Tairawhiti Roads, appears to be failing due to underfunding. Compounding its inability to carry out needed repairs is a failure to even communicate after road problems are called in, according to frustrated Ngatapa residents at a meeting on Thursday night.

Efficiency gains in the vast Network Outcome Contracts that began in October 2015 delivered savings to local and especially central government — $4.6 million over five years for the council and $12.1m for the NZTA, on contracts worth a combined $130m — and now a worsening road network.

One indication of that is reports from log truck operators that their costs have gone up 10 to 15 percent in the past year because of increased wear-and-tear, due to deteriorating road conditions.

One of the key “efficiencies” in the NOCs is an allowance to stretch repair and maintenance work, meaning jobs build up more in an area and can be combined. Not surprisingly that is proving to be a false economy.

The NOCs are failing along with our roads, at a time when this region urgently needs the network to be made more robust.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of economic development are being tied up because our roads are not fit for purpose.

Central government committed about $8m to various initiatives here when it launched the region’s economic action plan earlier this year, and Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges described that as a downpayment on what would come following the transport review. With an election coming up, now would be a good time to press him for a figure.

A Labour government would reinstate our rail line south, what commitment will it give to strengthening our road network?

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