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But will he make the trains run on time?

Written By: - Date published: 9:22 pm, September 22nd, 2010 - 27 comments
Categories: poverty, public services - Tags: , ,

A little over a week ago, Parliament unanimously made Gerry Browlee dictator. Apparently, this was necessary to save Christchurch. But are Dictator Gerry and Bob ‘the Rebuilder’ (wonder how long it took Kevin Taylor to come up with that one) actually delivering for the people who need it the most?

Christchurch is, by and large, a fully functioning city thanks to this country’s excellent building standards and the sterling work of public services in the wake of the quake. But In the worst affected suburbs, things are still bad and people are wondering why all the government and council attention has been lavished on the CBD. Now, they’re getting angry.

In central Christchurch, work has restarted on upgrades to the tram lines that were begun before the earthquake. In Kaiapoi and Avonside, there are still roads without water or sewerage. You can’t criticise the dedication of the workers labouring to repair the services but they aren’t getting the resources they need.

Houses that are green-stickered, meaning they are structurally sound, are actually uninhabitable because of lack of services or contamination. And the people affected aren’t even getting help from the mayoral fund that Kiwis have so generously contributed to.

So, Gerry Brownlee has exercised his dictatorial powers to make it legal for overweight and over-dimension trucks to drive on any road in the country, given police emergency powers for the next year, and removed requirements on councils to consider the consequences of their decisions. But he hasn’t got the loos working for Christchurch’s poor.

I suspect it simply isn’t on his agenda.

27 comments on “But will he make the trains run on time? ”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    IMO the people in these affected streets need to be housed elsewhere. Its not good enough that they are living in those conditions. Apparently it could take a year to get the sewage connected back up. Thats even if they decide to rebuild on the affected land.

  2. bbfloyd 2

    one thing i have always assumed about our great leaders is that they may at times have the wrong approach, or be misguided, but never stupid. Jerry brownlee and the people who have been behind this push to get “road trains” back onto NZ roads can only be two things.
    1.. completely bereft of common sense or,
    2.. blinded by greed…

    i have found that it is quite common for no2 to contribute to no1.
    yet another problem for the next labor govt to have to fix.. with the attendant howling coming from the trucking lobby.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    One of the problems here at the moment is that there is already huge pressure on available housing. My wife is a real estate agent and she informs me that one of the insurance companies contacted their rental division to rent every available house they had. So, finding alternative accommodation for these people in the affected streets could be problematic given the scale of the problem.

    I guess we should be thankful because the problems could have been a lot worse.

    Apparently there are 1500 empty houses in Christchurch that are not actually rented out. I understand that the government is trying to encourage the owners of these houses to make their houses available.

    • Marty G 3.1

      yeah, there’s a housing shortage now. a lot of those holiday homes will be too far away for a family to use and carry on their normal life.

      there’s a risk that families will just quit on Christchurch altogether.

      All the more reason to get those structurally sound houses clean and get their services reconnected as a priority.

      • tsmithfield 3.1.1

        Its a great ambition. However, the damage in those particular areas makes it very difficult and time-consuming to get the job done. My father has a house not far away from there and they only have temporary water connected at the moment via hoses along the road, so I do have some personal knowledge of the situation.

        There is talk that some of those areas might be completely bulldozed, good houses and all, and new houses built somewhere else. If that is the case, and it is going to take twelve months to repair the sewage system, then relocating the people might be the only option. I certainly think that expecting them to stay where they are in those conditions is completely unreasonable.

        From what I have seen, the council is working as hard as they possibly can to get things sorted. However, some things are just going to take time no matter how much effort is put in.

        • A Nonny Moose

          “From what I have seen, the council is working as hard as they possibly can to get things sorted. However, some things are just going to take time no matter how much effort is put in.”

          This. 19 days people. You can’t expect to wave a magic wand and everything comes right instantly after a natural disaster.

          The infrastructure is in place. Stop getting in the way with political rhetoric stirring up already upset residents for political gain. Sometimes these things go beyond party lines. This is one of those times.

          • Puddleglum

            It’s not about political rhetoric.

            The first priority in disaster situations is to ensure that all people are in habitable situations. I don’t often agree completely with TS but I think he’s right that this is entirely unreasonable and getting some decent living arrangements – agreeable to the people affected – is the number one priority.

            One of their main complaints is that they’ve had insufficient communication from Council and they feel that they are in the queue behind getting business buildings in the CBD sorted.

            As I said, the priority is clear – their problems are front of the queue problems – or should be. Parker or anyone else as Mayor should be spending their time first and foremost putting things right for them. It’s not politics, it’s what all of us would expect of any post-disaster effort. These are the domestic conditions, hygiene, etc. of families we’re talking about.

            • Swampy

              What strikes me is a lack of reasonableness from the people doing the complaining, they are being provided for and the living conditions we have in this country are far superior to many developing countries, maybe they would like to be in Haiti and understand the huge difference in outcomes from a similar sized earthquake. Now the fact is that there is massive damage to the sewerage systems in some of these suburbs and it will take many months to repair. As the city council says on their website they renew about 4 km of sewerage a year and here they are faced with some tens of km of sewers which will have to be replaced.

              Now if you go around the city you will see sewerage works going on in various places, without even specially looking I saw at least three different lots of works going on in differnet parts of town, so the work is going on. The job of repairing sewers is huge, they are big pipes up to 2 metres in diameter roughly 3 metres down in the road, the road has to be dug up, sheet piles have to be driven to hold up the sides of the trench, big pumps have to be brought in to dewater the trench, then finally they can get on with laying the pipe, and then they have to connect a lateral into every house along the street. Over the past two years I have watched a new sewer line slowly creeping across from Linwood to the central city, two or three km, it is a massive job.

              There is similarly a massive job in the reconstruction and there are works already going on all over the place so there is plenty happening already, the fact it will take quite a while to complete all of this repair work is very understandable and not at all unreasonable.

  4. with this storm raging across the country and the ensuing powercuts, trees blown over, and dampness, i expect parliament to declare martial law for the rest of the nation very shortly.

    • tsmithfield 4.1

      Yeh. The insurance companies must be getting hammered at the moment. Thankfully for Christchurch we have been having beautiful weather here.

      • the sprout 4.1.1

        insurance companies must be getting hammered at the moment

        true, i guess there’ll be legislation passed under urgency to provide them with a few billion in corporate welfare if it looks like their profits could decline

    • rich 4.2

      It’s a lovely spring day here in Wellington, just as it has been every day this week. And although it’s windy, we don’t get infrastructure damage from gales, because anything that was going to blow over did so long ago.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    BTW, you may have already seen this, its been around for awhile. 773 quakes at the time of this posting. You can speed up the animation by clicking on the forth arrow to the right a few times.

    [lprent:added the http to the link ]

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Fixed Link

      The blog software doesn’t seem to like it if you leave off the “http://www.” and fills it in with the address of the parent page.

  6. ianmac 6

    Some of us noted that the man fronting up to the desperate people in Avonside TV and radio, was the man who actually does the work. He took the heat from the people and was visibly upset at their plight.
    But where was that Parker twerp or Brownlie for that matter? They are so good at smiling and promising but scarce when the people are upset. What do you think of the Parker cowardly no-show when the tough stuff happens?

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      Anderton was there too.

    • Bill 6.2

      You forget that these kindly gents, Brownlie and Parker, are in the business of reducing council related services and jobs.

      By having a council worker (even if not employed by council, that is the perception) front up in a situation where shortcomings are obvious, can be used down the track to build the case against council services on the grounds that they aren’t up to the task at hand but would be under PPP’s or whatever.

    • Swampy 6.3

      So Parker wasn’t at a Labour Party local government election campaign meeting in Avonside, he was in his office doing the job he is paid to do, he doesn’t have to go to every meeting because there are other people in the council that can do it and the local councillors in that ward went out to those meetings.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Draco “The blog software doesn’t seem to like it if you leave off the “http://www.” and fills it in with the address of the parent page.”

    Sorry, try again. Here is the graphic. As I said, pressing the fourth arrow button speeds up the animation.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Na. Still not happening. This time I’ll just type the link.


  9. ieuan 9

    So Marty let’s just follow some of the ‘logic’ of your post.

    The people doing the tram tracks are also capable or repairing the sewerage systems?

    If Gerry hadn’t approved overweight trucks this would somehow provide loos for Christchurch’s poor?

    Someone is always going to be last to have assistance. Most people who have had their homes damaged to the point they can’t stay in them (and that includes two friends of mine) have moved in with relatives but not everyone has that option. I am sure the government and the council are doing what they can. It is true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease so I don’t blame people for complaining to the media. However I think you are stretching things to criticise Brownlee and Parker because not everyone is totally happy.

    • Swampy 9.1

      The council renews about 4 km of sewer every year. It is a reasonable guess they have specialist crews to do the work. I have seen those crews at work without looking very hard over the last few days. It will take them months to repair tens of km of sewerage which is entirely understandeable. While we were more fortunate being almost on the doorstep of the wastewater plant, they even have problems with the damage to the banks of the oxidation ponds, a huge job to repair those and very essential.

  10. Swampy 10

    The amount of sewerage that might need repairs is massive – I saw somewhere up to 100 km. It is still being assessed and it is probably a specialist group of workers that does it – not the ones that are working on the tram tracks, so it is disingenous to suggest that every council worker should be working on sewers – it is a waste of time to have a lot of them standing round doing nothing when they don’t have the expertise to do so. Sewerage work is happening – works that were contracted for before the earthquake are continuing, as they should. At this stage it isn’t clear how the massive amount of repairs will be carried out but it is fair to say so soon after the earthquake that the rebuilding is only just beginning

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