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Is enough being done for Canterbury?

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, December 13th, 2010 - 53 comments
Categories: Economy, jobs - Tags: ,

I was in Christchurch this weekend for the second time since the quake. It felt like things are gradually getting worse. Compared to the pre-Christmas bustle in other cities, Christchurch CBD was a ghost-town. The public service’s emergency preparedness got us through the initial disaster – has enough been done since? What are your impressions?

I had a read through the Press to get an idea of how the locals are viewing the recovery.

A leading businessman is warning that 2,000 businesses are on the brink of collapse and will take 20,000 jobs with them if they are allowed to go under. He called for a $100 million bailout package (about 5% of what the Government spent bailing out rich investors in South Canterbury Finance).

A request was put to the government for $4.1 million in assistance to help keep businesses and jobs. Instead, Gerry Brownlee has announced a $600,000 package with $100,000 for Kaiapoi, most of it sucked up in business mentors’ fees. Just $12 million in support has been paid by the government in the three months since the quake.

The promise of rebuilding work to kick-start the economy is not eventuating. Most of the $5 billion worth of damage will not be fixed for years to come. The 3,000 worst-affected households won’t even know until February what will become of their homes. The Reserve Bank believes that 50% of the damage to commercial property will still be unrepaired at the end of 2012 – 28 months after the quake. It says that many businesses will relocate (if they don’t go under first), which raises the question of whether large parts of the CBD will ever be reoccupied.

It seems to me that the CBD needs a plan. Rather than leaving it to businesses to redbuild or move away, the council needs a vision for a green, vibrant CBD and, then, it needs to invest to build it. The earthquake opens up that opportunity, if the leaders have the vision to take it.

Things are pretty bad in the worst-hit suburbs too, most of which Brendon Burns represents as local MP. Brendon has been utterly dedicated to the recovery since the quake and, given his strong backing of the government’s CERRA legislation, no-one can accuse him of playing politics with the issue. Here’s what he wrote in the Press last week:

I don’t doubt for a moment that everyone in Canterbury shares a fervent common wish for our city and region to be strong and successful again as soon as possible after September 4.

We can all acknowledge that phase one – quake response, including from the Government – was magnificent. Everyone rallied. A wage subsidy of $350 a week was quickly introduced to help businesses retain staff. Emergency services did us proud.

Of course, phase one was, apart from the wage subsidy, all pre-planned policies being implemented by the public service, all the ministers had to do was smile and wave.

Phase two is less glamorous. It will last two if not three years. It demands no less focus and determination.

From a national perspective, we are fading from view. In September, there were 36 pages of quake-related Beehive media statements; in October, 11 pages; last month four pages, concluding with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee’s announcement of over $500,000 being provided under the Government’s new package of measures to assist Canterbury business.

Much of it centres on advice. It does nothing to assist businesses with the crucial issue of cashflow, often down by a third or more since the quake.

The package pitifully represents about a dollar a head for each Cantabrian.

Spare a thought for Kaiapoi, which battling Waimakariri MP and Labour’s spokesman on Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Clayton Cosgrove colourfully described after the quake as looking like war-torn Beirut.

The Waimakariri District Council asked the Government for $950,000; it got a part-time business recovery co-ordinator and a $20,000 share of $100,000 for promotion and marketing of Canterbury.

That would buy about two adverts on Australian television where the enduring image of Christchurch is a flattened city. Little wonder a Melbourne business visitor who arrived last week wondered if they might be lucky enough to find an undamaged hotel room.

Such images and ongoing issues such as cordons are feeding a sucking sound as Christchurch businesses shed staff. Each displaced person no longer spends money around where they worked.

That’s backed up by stats today showing the number of bus trips in Christchurch plummeting 20% as fewer people commute to the CBD.

…The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce went in to bat with Government for a modest $3.16m package to assist Canterbury businesses.

It was advised just ahead of Brownlee’s announcement that this had been turned down for fear of creating a “precedent”.

If the Chamber of Commerce can’t get the message through to this Government about this being a once in 750 years event and deserving of a bigger response, who can?

Certainly the city’s Labour MPs and Jim Anderton have been trying for many weeks. We have been apolitical, working collegially in the greater interests of our quake-ravaged electorates and region.

I cannot but believe that Brownlee and his two other Canterbury ministerial colleagues would also have been trying to convince the Cabinet of the pressing need for more support for stressed businesses.

Many of them, hundreds by some estimates, will not survive without some real assistance. The recovery will take two years or more but it is the next three to six months that is crucial. The Government has to get serious about providing better support.

New Zealanders expect any Government to be there for people at such times, be they farmers, or householders or small and medium businesses and the jobs they provide.

Is Canterbury asking for too much in requesting a modest, well- managed budget to keep entirely viable Christchurch small to medium-sized enterprises afloat and maintaining jobs? We will pay the cost one way or the other.

Some options that could be considered include:

Reopening the $350 a week wage subsidy for the next three months – only $12.5m of the $15m budgeted was actually spent.

Assisting businesses which have had to move with relocation costs.

Underwriting further rates relief to enable the councils to more greatly assist businesses.

Funding a serious, sustained promotional campaign – Christchurch is the South Island’s gateway, if visitors are not coming here they are less likely to be going to Queenstown, Otago or Nelson/ Marlborough.

Three days after the quake, the Prime Minister said that the Government “will be doing whatever we can, within our powers to restore normality to the Canterbury region”.

We are a long way short of normality. It may never return for many businesses and their employees if the Government does not do whatever it can.

I wonder what is happening with all the millions of dollars that Kiwis donated to the relief funds. I’ve been unable to find out.

What are your impressions of the situation in Canterbury?

53 comments on “Is enough being done for Canterbury?”

  1. gingercrush 1

    Christchurch’s CBD was dead before the Earthquake. Why would you go there when it takes forever to get around, the shops are crappy most of which are pathetically priced and parking is annoying. Much easier to take the 5-10 minute trip to one of the large malls. Parking is easy and its free and they’ve got actual normal shops.

    And the council has over the years spent a fortune attempting to revitalise the City Centre. It hasn’t worked. Frankly, I don’t even see a need for one.

    • mummybot 1.1

      I find your view sad. If you don’t know what a difference a vibrant city centre makes to the town one lives in, then I guess you would find attempts to revitalise it a waste of time. You could consider moving to L.A. or Las Vegas, I’m sure you would love both.

      • gingercrush 1.1.1

        I love living in Christchurch where we have no vibrant city centre and you know what we don’t need one. For the fortunes that have spent trying to revitalise the city centre and every attempt actually makes the city centre worse rather than better. Instead of spending the money in the city centre.

        The council could have instead made each community itself vibrant. The city centre could be an extension to that but there is no need for that to be anymore special than elsewhere. If we treated the likes of Papanui, Riccarton, Linwood, Sydenham, St. Albans, Fendalton, Merivale etc. as villages and linking those villages to each other. Christchurch as a whole would be far better off.

        • lprent 1.1.1.1

          I’d agree with gc here (as rare as that often is). As a native Aucklander I’m used to having multiple villages and city centres. I seldom go into the city centre and pretty much haven’t ever since I was child. I’m more likely to be in Takapuna or Manakau than the central city.

          It is too much of a pain, and I currently only live up in the Newton end of Grey Lynn (and Newton itself prior to that). I’ve always used the various subcities and village areas. Currently Ponsonby, KRd, Herne Bay and Newmarket with occasional excursions to Grey Lynn. When I lived in Mt Albert it was Sandringham, Mt Albert, St Lukes and occasionally Dominion Rd.

          However I can tell you who does use the central city. The immigrants to Auckland – like Lyn from Invercargill (via Dunedin). She regularly drags me into town for movies, yakatori, and borders.

          • RobertM 1.1.1.1.1

            Auckland and Christchurch are both LA type cities were the central city has ceased to be of much importance except for corporate, law firm, headquarters and bar and other types of nightlife. Christchurch was equally as much a city of villages but had the advantage at least until a year ago of being a flat city with an excellent frequent bus service. In Auckland the bus service is poor and infrequent beyond the old tram routes and possibly the city Takapuna link. The trains don’t go anywhere one would want to go for tourist, social or bar life. Many of the attractive suburbs with goods cafes, resteraunts and bars are difficult to reach at night and almost impossible without a car. Better public transport in Wellington and the higher IQ of the government workforce and their offsprings make Wellington a more livable city , plus a natural beauty of Wellington harbour which in some respects is more unique and jewel like than Auckland.
            Ballantynes and few other Christchurch central city department stores were more central to the CBD prosperity than acknowledged by Labour people- because they tended to stock durable quality in complete contrast to the warehouse. You would probably have paid $130-200 for mens jeans there l8 months ago but I would have thought Smith and Caughey far more expensive.

        • Lanthanide 1.1.1.2

          I agree.

          The city centre always has been dead for retail. Why bother going there when the same shops can be found in the various malls, and anything else left are niche markets (musical instruments) or highly priced (fashion stores, Ballantynes (really nothing special)) that most people in CHCH don’t have the money to regularly shop at anyway. I’m talking $200 for a t-shirt, here.

          Now there are a lot of good restaurants, but they aren’t going to draw the mid-day weekend shoppers out.

          If anything, clearing out all the businesses and old dangerous buildings will give us a much better opportunity to convert the central city into apartments, to help CHCH weather the upcoming oil shocks by making energy use more efficient.

        • Swampy 1.1.1.3

          Yeah, this is right. After all the council is allowing mall developments in the sburbs, has for years, they didnt seem to care that much. You go into the city centre and people want to park near shops they dont want to have to find a parking building and pay monet when they can have free parking at malls.

    • r0b 1.2

      Why so down on the Christchurch centre? I’ve always found it lively enough (used to work there, catch The Wizard in the square, and enjoy wandering about). I’m not there nearly so often these days, but it’s still my impression that much of it is great, and well used.

      However, yes, the recovery is stalled. I’m not involved in insurance claims, but friends and family who are report nothing but delay after delay after delay. Good post and good summary on a topic that must not be allowed to fall off the country’s agenda.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Maybe if Bob Parker planted some kiwifruit vines by the Cathedral, Christchurch could get a share of the $25M the Govt dished out straight away to the growers?

    It was advised just ahead of Brownlee’s announcement that this had been turned down for fear of creating a “precedent”.

    Brownlee reckons he might be able to bring on more magnitude 7 earthquakes by signing on the dotted line? Idiots 🙄

  3. Bill 3

    Apparently there was an influx of builders expecting a bonanza of sorts. But the Earthquake Commission hasn’t paid out. So no money for builders to carry out repairs. And the private insurance companies haven’t paid out. So no money for builders there either.

    As for small business. National have never given a flying one for them.

    Meanwhile, I get the impression that the bureaucratic ‘tick box culture’ has taken over. Again. As though the world is built from a job well done in correctly completed forms. I heard of a ridiculous situation where council workers set to work repairing a cracked tarmac path in a play ground in spite of the fact they would have to rip it up to effect repairs on the sewerage system.

    I can’t see why initiatives can’t be launched whereby willing people are given a proper wage and the resources to undertake such preparatory measures as digging out the trenches around broken sewerage pipes. That and a 1001 other practical and empowering measures…sod the marketing strategies. I mean, wasn’t that why Gerry was given the powers of command and control? To get things done?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      That and a 1001 other practical and empowering measures…sod the marketing strategies. I mean, wasn’t that why Gerry was given the powers of command and control? To get things done?

      Well, it was the pretext at least.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      “I can’t see why initiatives can’t be launched whereby willing people are given a proper wage and the resources to undertake such preparatory measures as digging out the trenches around broken sewerage pipes.”

      I assume by ‘proper wage’ you mean something other than minimum wage? Sorry, if you’re doing menial no-skills jobs that anyone can do, paying more than minimum wage isn’t sensible.

      Also, it’s all very nice to go dig up trenches, but if there is no-one around who actually can repair the pipe (because they’re already repairing a different pipe elsewhere), all you’ve done is create a hazard. I’m sure the council doesn’t really want to open itself up to lawsuits.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Sorry, if you’re doing menial no-skills jobs that anyone can do, paying more than minimum wage isn’t sensible.

        When you say it isn’t sensible, who are you representing? Not that worker and their family obviously? Nor the diary across the road from that worker’s home who would love that family to spend a bit more cash there in the weekends?

        Also, it’s all very nice to go dig up trenches, but if there is no-one around who actually can repair the pipe (because they’re already repairing a different pipe elsewhere), all you’ve done is create a hazard. I’m sure the council doesn’t really want to open itself up to lawsuits.

        This is what Brownlee could do. Approve budget to get this work done. Not just individual subtasks Lanth, but to get what needs to be done, done.

        We have 160,000 unemployed in this country, we have important repair work which needs to be done.

        I cannot believe that our stupid capitalist system of Government cannot (and under the Nats is not willing to) seem to put two and two together.

        • Lanthanide 3.2.1.1

          “who are you representing”
          Christchurch ratepayers, of which I am one.

          “This is what Brownlee could do. Approve budget to get this work done. Not just individual subtasks Lanth, but to get what needs to be done, done.

          We have 160,000 unemployed in this country, we have important repair work which needs to be done.”
          If you’re talking about complex technical jobs like drain repair that need to be done properly and correctly, then we’re not talking about a job that you can just pull any-old Joe off the street and give 3 weeks training and say ‘get to it’.

          Sure, the government could probably set up programmes to train people up (or put people through existing programmes, but they may need extra capacity etc), but you’d probably be looking at 6 months or so before you started to get extra people cranked out of the end of that process, so it’s not a “quick fix”. What happens to them all once the work has been finished? What do you do about all the other people that think they deserve special funding to achieve their qualifications, which ultimately may be better use for the community in the long run (doctors, nurses)?

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1.1

            Christchurch ratepayers, of which I am one.

            So your call as a ratepayer is that people doing Council work should always be paid minimum wage where possible?

            If you’re talking about complex technical jobs like drain repair that need to be done properly and correctly

            I know graduates, experienced machine operators, scientists etc who are currently unemployed. Do you think we will be able to rustle up a hundred able drain layers? I reckon we could.

            Sure, the government could probably set up programmes to train people up (or put people through existing programmes, but they may need extra capacity etc), but you’d probably be looking at 6 months or so

            There will be South Island contractors who could do with additional contracts right now to fill up empty looking order books.

            160,000 unemployed, building trade quiet, contractors twiddling their thumbs with no jobs, work needs to be done, its not being done and people are not getting pay.

            Amazing our system of Government can’t put two and two together.

            • Lanthanide 3.2.1.1.1.1

              “So your call as a ratepayer is that people doing Council work should always be paid minimum wage where possible?”
              Yes.

              “There will be South Island contractors who could do with additional contracts right now to fill up empty looking order books.”
              Then the South Island contractors should be moving to CHCH so as to be able to do the work that needs doing.

              Now if you can show there is definitely a case of available and qualified capacity going unused, then sure I agree with you that the government should be stepping in, paying the $ and getting the job done ASAP. But I haven’t seen any proof that this is the case.

      • Bill 3.2.2

        “…if you’re doing menial no-skills jobs that anyone can do, paying more than minimum wage isn’t sensible.

        First up. It’s not ‘everyone’ can do menial ‘no-skills’ jobs. And anyway, if the job itself is onerous or stultifying to the spirit, why shouldn’t it attract enhanced compensation?

        And what is so hazardous about a ditch? Put some bloody tape or cones around them! Been to the Netherlands? They’ve got canals to fall into. No barriers on many. And yet even the terminally stupid somehow manage to not fall in and drown.

        Don’t tell me you favour paying bureaucrats and managers to catalogue and file the bleeding obvious, and check that paper work is in proper order before allowing any action to be undertaken, over paying people to actually do stuff?

        I’m not talking about demolitions or what not, but perfectly do-able tasks. If one of those tasks was to be sewerage repair, then tell me. What is so hard about distributing pipes and necessary tools to neighbourhoods and allowing willing residents to lay them themselves? It’s not rocket science. A couple of pointers on common problems that might be encountered, and on some common improper pipe laying mistakes would allow things to move forwards.

        • Lats 3.2.2.1

          I’m not talking about demolitions or what not, but perfectly do-able tasks. If one of those tasks was to be sewerage repair, then tell me. What is so hard about distributing pipes and necessary tools to neighbourhoods and allowing willing residents to lay them themselves?

          Most likely it is health and safety regulations. Repairing sewer pipes means the workers are going to come into contact with reasonably large quanitites of raw (untreated) sewage. This is potentially quite hazardous – workers will be exposed to high levels of gastrointestinal bacteria, among which are E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and nasty viruses including Hepatitis. The guys at the council who do this sort of work all the time are trained to handle potentially contaminated material, your average Joe Bloggs probably isn’t.

          In addition quite often the water and sewerage infrastructure in Chch (and probably every other metropolitan centre) are laid side by side. It would be potentially disastrous if well-meaning but untrained residents were to inadvertently cause cross-contamination with the domestic water supply.

          Thats not to say that training couldn’t be provided, but there is more to it than just dropping some pipes and a spade at the street corner and telling the residents to get to it.

          • Bill 3.2.2.1.1

            Instead of casting around for reasons to do nothing, why not…

            Advertise heavily in the most affected areas a day workshop or whatever that will cover the basics.

            Distribute the blueprints or whatever might exist that pinpoints the positioning of various pipes.

            Round up existing, experienced drain layers and if necessary, those with transferable skills (plumbers? builders?) and put them into the neighbourhoods as technical advisors. (One per team?) Assign sparkies for the sake of switching off the electric if that’s necessary or show the technical advisors how to do that. And so on.

            Point out to people who are ankle deep in shit in shit at the moment and suffering throat infections and all sorts, that careless handling of shit might lead to illness. If you feel that’s necessary.

            And replicate the scenario for other do-able works (e.g. relaying tarmac?)

            That there will be a shortage of plant is a given. So work will be more labour intensive than what we have come to expect…a fair amount of pick and shovels instead of diggers and pneumatic drills and tamping or whatever instead of steam road rollers…

          • Bill 3.2.2.1.2

            “there is more to it than just dropping some pipes and a spade at the street corner and telling the residents to get to it.”

            Yup. And the problem is? Gerry has been given the powers of command and control. In other words, he has the power to dictate how things will be done and lay in the systems to make those things happen. He doesn’t have to wait for the market to respond. Aren’t dictators meant to be good at ‘making the trains run on time’ afterall? Maybe he’s lacking on the imagination front? Nah. Can’t be that.

            • Lanthanide 3.2.2.1.2.1

              There was a post on here not too long after the earthquake talking about asbestos contamination in buildings in CHCH and how this was a big risk to people not trained to do the job properly.

              I guess when it comes to sewerage and public infrastructure that is expected to work flawlessly for decades, we can just cut corners and get some average Joe on the corner who needs a job to do it?

              Really you’re not being rational.

              • Bill

                The asbestos is a major hazard. End. Prior to the quake, being suspicious about the presence of asbestos a single building was enough to have entire streets shut down.

                Sewerage is making people ill right now.

                And I can’t understand the reticence being displayed with regards getting the problem fixed faster than is happening at the moment. Did I say that safety should be thrown to the wind in undertaking any proposed action? No.

            • Lats 3.2.2.1.2.2

              Are you really expecting Gerry to give a sh*t about the poor folks in Avonside, Bexley, etc? They aren’t in Fendalton/Ilam, and probably wouldn’t vote for him if he stood in their electorate. While the Chch Earthquake Emergency Response legislation may have given him wide ranging powers I’m fairly certain he’ll only be using them to help out his mates in the snobby areas.

        • Armchair Critic 3.2.2.2

          It’s not ‘everyone’ can do menial ‘no-skills’ jobs
          Drainlaying is not a menial job. You need to be able to operate a range of machinery (diggers, compactors, concrete saws, drills). Assembling the pipes properly, so they don’t leak, requires knowledge of how the various jointing systems work. Pipes need to be laid to grade, so the use of surveying equipment (usually a laser level) is needed. You also need to be able to safely manage vehicular and pedestrian traffic, get your materials delivered on time etc.
          In Christchurch, where an existing system is in place, you need to keep the existing system running until the new system is completed. With a live system there is likely to be wastewater contamination within the trench and you need to be able to avoid falling sick. You also come across other services – phone and electricity mainly. The telcos get especially upset if you damage their fibre-optics. Not sure if there is reticulated gas in Christchurch any more, but it is a hazard and high pressure gas (which I have come across in the NI) is even more so.
          Also, in Christchurch the water supply is unchlorinated. Which is why the water tastes so good. While the water pipes and wastewater may well have been laid in the same trench originally, and while you may have to relay them in the same trench again (to minimize the cost), to prevent cross-contamination of the water supply with wastewater you must be absolutely meticulous with your construction. At a minimum you need different sets of tools, and preferably different people doing the work.
          Leave it to the residents? No way.
          And what is so hazardous about a ditch?
          The sides collapse and, when they are deep enough, they kill anyone they land on. It’s especially unpleasant when they don’t kill the person straight away, the massive weight of the soil suffocates them – you really don’t want to witness it.

          • Bill 3.2.2.2.1

            Are there ways around the problems you highlight?

            If not, then does that mean that baby and bath water are all thrown out, or do scenarios that would empower people to carry out or contribute to other, less problematic repairs continue to be investigated and developed?

            edit Jeez. Why’s everything coming up in italic?…Unless you deliberately italic a portion of the reply as I just did?

            [italics fixed — r0b]

            • Bill 3.2.2.2.1.1

              Bloody reverted back to italic again didn’t it. Oh well.

            • Armchair Critic 3.2.2.2.1.2

              Of course there are ways around the issues. Training, mostly, and being really active in the health and safety area. The training takes some time, though.
              On the water supply side I would like to add to the list that the necessary skills include the placement and construction of fire hydrants, the correct installation of thrust-blocks (to prevent the pipe blowing itself to bits under pressure in the alluvial soils in Christchurch) and tapping a new connection into a live watermain – I won’t forget the first time I did this, let’s just say I got very very wet.
              Avoiding injuries from trench collapses is easy enough with a properly designed trenching shield, as long as the trenching shield is also used. Seeing an unused trenching shield sitting next to an open trench is enough to make me f*****g wild.
              Agree with the all italics thing – weird.

          • Swampy 3.2.2.2.2

            When they do a main sewer down the middle of a major road they drive sheet piling along the sides. And that sewer pipe is two or three metres down. You need a lot of machinery to do it. And there are other services crossing over the top, like wires and pipes that go across the road instead of along it.

            There is a big new seewer being laid across town at the moment, its in st Saph sttreet now. They have a gantry crane to lifet the pipes in and its been worked on contunally for the last 2 years and it took that long to lay about 5 ks.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.3

        Or, you know, you could also give the person digging the hole the training to fix the pipe as well.

        • Colonial Viper 3.2.3.1

          Apparently its a six month course.

          • Lanthanide 3.2.3.1.1

            CV, I don’t know the specifics of drainlaying, but I do know it is not something that you can just “do” without the appropriate skills. My sister’s boyfriend’s dad was a drainlayer, but had to give up the job after damage to his back, and now he works for the council doing drain inspections and permitting because he clearly has the technical background to do so. See armchair critic’s post above for an idea of just what is involved in laying drains. Also my estimate of 6 months was for someone who was already experienced in a related area, like telecommunications trenching or what-not, to train to be a drain layer. Not picking some bum off the street and turning them out in 6 months time. How long does the average drain laying apprenticeship last?

            Even if it is something that people could be trained to do in a short amount of time, and maybe 90% of them are done well. Do you really want the other 10% of poorly laid drains causing problems in the future, such as requiring the work to be re-done because it wasn’t done properly in the first place? What if 1% of them end up causing wide-spread problems, such as contamination of water supply or rivers etc? Because you were so anxious to get the job done ASAP, you may have ended up costing everyone far more money in the long run.

            Better to get the job done right properly the first time.

            • Draco T Bastard 3.2.3.1.1.1

              Then I suggest you go ask your BFs father how long it would take to learn how to lay drains. I suspect 6 months is more than enough time to train someone. They could have started back in Sept. and they would have been ready for the new year. Most of laying pipes, and power/telecommunications, is labouring.

              Please not, we’re talking about laying the drains not designing them which would, of course, be left to civil engineers.

              • Armchair Critic

                I suspect 6 months is more than enough time to train someone.
                I suspect three or four years is more likely.
                http://www.modern-apprenticeships.govt.nz/Pages/Faq.aspx?id=165#Item166
                Most of laying pipes, and power/telecommunications, is labouring.
                Can’t comment on power or telecommunications, and I agree that there is a strong labouring component to drain laying, but it is very much skilled labouring. Letting someone with six months of training lay drains is a folly.
                The situation is not so bad as to require the mobilisation of the public, as you suggest. If it were then Gerry would have made it so, under the CERRA. If the situation were that urgent, and given the choice I would advocate for letting skilled tradespeople from around the country take “shortcuts”, based on their training and experience, rather than train up the public. That way the shortcuts would be “an informed decision”. Then the consistent nature of the shortcuts would then make it easier to fix the problems that arose in the future.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I am not doubting that drain laying takes skill and precision. But 160,000 unemployed and we have no experienced drain layers there? Not even 100 of them? WTF, have they all left to go work in Oz’s construction boom?

                  • Armchair Critic

                    But 160,000 unemployed and we have no experienced drain layers there? Not even 100 of them?
                    Years of neglect of the apprenticeship system since the 1980s. Labour tried to address it, National then tried to undress it.
                    WTF, have they all left to go work in Oz’s construction boom?
                    Yes, and why not? A lot of civil engineers have headed that way, or are heading that way, too. I’m sorely tempted to join them.

                    • Herododus

                      drainlaying is more technical than many think. It is not just dig a trench and connect some pipes. Yo have to be able to lay pipes in accordance to ground levels to allow gravity to do its thing. Then once laid they have to be “signed off” re connecting collars then have to be CCTV.
                      ther has to be alot of planing and design from engineers as to as positions and as builts. I imagine this is an opportunity for the ciuncil to upgarde, enlarge the S/W/ & S/S capabilities.
                      then there also is the supply of pipes PVC, concrete & ceramics (Sourced from as far away as Germany). At least Cant do not have top worry about sourcing bedding sand and aggregates (unlike Jafaland) as they have ample supply.
                      re telecom, I have heard that there could be an increase of line failure made clear once winter hits. As lines that can fail due to water infiltration will not be known until then.
                      Ther also is Dept of Lab requirements re training e.g. the use of a tripod when entering a sewer- even if the sewer in not connected, and with chch safety of a “cavein” due to futher aftershocks.
                      Like many jobs they look easy but there is more to it than the eye can see. !!!

                    • RedLogix

                      Armchair and Lathanide are both perfectly correct. No way do you allow untrained people anywhere near this kind of work.

                    • Bill

                      The sewerage was meant as an example only.

                      The scenario whereby people can get access to the tools and/or training and/or necessary on-site technical advisers was the point. Sewerage was a bad example. So what? There are surely other areas of work that would lend themselves to such a scheme. I’m sure Cantabrians could come up with a list.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Bill, if such areas exist, why don’t you come up with a list?

                      Perhaps the reason this mobilisation you are so intent on seeing isn’t happening, is because there actually isn’t anything appropriate, on a wide enough scale, for it to be necessary.

                      Note that immediately after the earthquake the students and others did organise a big recovery effort, digging out lots of silt etc. The fact that this sort of thing has stopped shows more that it isn’t feasible with the jobs that a left that need to be done.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  2 to 4 years according to your link but, as it requires mostly labouring and NOT civil engineers, you’d be able to get the labourers trained in 6 months. We probably already have enough civil engineers.

                  • Armchair Critic

                    2 to 4 years according to your link but, as it requires mostly labouring and NOT civil engineers, you’d be able to get the labourers trained in 6 months.
                    Don’t be pig-headed.
                    Flying a plane is easy, evidently. It’s the taking off and landing that are tricky.
                    Digging a hole is easy, too. Putting a pipe into that hole is much more difficult, for the reasons I outlined above.
                    In any case, civil engineers don’t lay drains. They are the tossers in ties and shiny shoes that stand around pointing and looking down into the trench. They turn up in an air-conditioned car, coffee to go in hand, hold up the job for half an hour and then they piss off.
                    We probably already have enough civil engineers.
                    We don’t, we have a shortage. There is a shortage right now and Immigration NZ has civil engineers on a list of long-term shortages.
                    http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/skills-needed-in-new-zealand~18.html

                  • Lanthanide

                    So you think what is delaying sewerage from being fixed in CHCH is a lack of labourers?

              • Swampy

                Its a lot more than just installing pipes, all the digging and the rest and abig one in Chch is draining the ground to lower the water table which means more pumps and pipes.

                just since the earthquake there have been streets had sewers re done by contract, not quick at all, you could take 2 weeks maybe more for 100 metres by the time you have all the laterals dug up and connected as well

                Now to put into perspective its estimated 100 km of sewer to be replaced
                I listed the western interceptor
                Another main road example in Pages road was going before the earthquake
                Its three months since the earthquake and they are still doing that project and it takes a really long time to move along the road.
                Not all the sewers will be big main road ones but the ones that do will take foreeever.

            • Swampy 3.2.3.1.1.2

              The western interceptor a new sewer currently in st asaph st near colombo st has been going for about 2 years and i think about 5 kms has been laid starting from Aldwins Rd. Its a huge job.

              Putting the one under the estuary is not a long distance tho I spose tunneling is a different story but its taken years of work to get that done.

  4. Lats 4

    As a Cantab my personal view is that we have been largely forgotten. The earth is still shaking down here ( a quick look at Geonet will prove that) and there are many folk who still have homes and businesses that are not safe. It is quite understandable that the media eye got shifted to the coast, the tragedy at the Pike River mine was incredibly sad, but that doesn’t excuse the government from dropping the ball. EQC seem to be doing as well as they can for residents, we are still waiting for the assessor to come and see us, but as far as I can tell our home is ok aside from a little cosmetic damage. I am quite happy to wait my turn and for EQC to focus on those (and there are plenty) worse off than us.
    I do feel sorry for the business owners. Many have lost a great deal of business from building damage, lack of access due to unsafe surrounding buildings, or to the general downturn in people visiting the city centre. And lets not forget that these are the businesses that employ people in Chch, if they go under then many workers suddenly lose their jobs. And that does nobody any good. So big ups to the CECC for trying to get more $$$ out of central govt.

    • Lats 4.1

      Update re: EQC – had our house assessment this morning. EQC seem to be pretty generous in my experience, we had what I would consider light cosmetic damage to our home (a few cracks along gib joins, that sort of thing) and nothing structural to worry about. The team from EQC (a claims adjuster from Brisbane and a builder from Gisborne) went through the house and spotted tiny cracks we hadn’t seen. They seemed to be on a mission to get us as much of a payout as possible, up to the $10,000 limit. Beyond that it becomes a “managed repair” outsourced to a contractor (I think it was Fletchers, but may have misheard that) and work is unlikely to begin for a year or two due to the backlog. Under $10k (excl GST) and EQC pay the homeowner a cheque and it is up to the owner to organise repairs themselves. My estimate of the repair bill was maybe $1000 (as I said, minor cosmetic damage) but the EQC assessors decided to inflate it out to $10380 (incl GST.) I’m happy to be getting a Xmas bonus thanks to EQC, but can’t help but wonder if they might not be being a little over-generous. I certainly doubt if we will be repairing all the damage they apparently saw, most of the “cracks” are virtually invisible.

  5. MrSmith 5

    After spending most of my working life on building sites I can tell you Drain laying is a trade and should be left to the tradesmen. Myself, I had to do 8000 hrs before I could call myself a tradesman and then I still was wet behind the ears, leave it to the experts nobody goes to there mechanic for a heart transplant.
    The CBD was dying before the earthquake and the council approved malls where killing it, but I see some opportunity here to turn the CBD into a village where people live in the future as I feel once travel becomes expensive the cities will fill up again.

  6. Deadly_NZ 6

    But there are fuck all rich people in CHCH, so the Teflon John and his gang will not give a flying fuck about the poor and needy….

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Well, actually, it’s more that the people of Chch wanted ECAN and democratic control of the water and so removing control from the farmers that is probably more the problem as far as NACT go. If they don’t repair Chch all the democracy supporters will leave and the farmers will be able to destroy the environment in peace.

  7. Rich 7

    It seemed to be all going reasonably well a couple of months ago. From the media reports (conventional and social), I was expecting a cross between Beirut and Soweto, only with pastier complexions. What I found was a city with lots of construction going on (no more than I’ve seen in places where they haven’t had a recent earthquake).

    The narrative everyone’s been given is that the place is in ruins and every 3.8 aftershock (which one can’t feel, unless in a very quiet space with lots of rattly stuff) is hyped up as the earth cracking open. That’s got to have a negative effect on trade, tourism and general confidence.

    (Same thing probably applies to Greymouth. If I was a traveller and picked up an NZ paper, I’d book to travel straight through from Nelson to Franz Josef to avoid visiting The Town Where Everyone Is Dead. So all the bar and hotel owners are probably feeling the pinch this xmas. One hopes they managed to make a few bucks out of the media circus).

    • Tired 7.1

      Those 3.8 aftershocks are still having quite an impact on those of us down here. I still get freaked out big time when a large truck goes past due to the similar harmonics they have with the main quake.

      Re it not looking too bad – while there are huge areas of Christchurch undamaged it might be better to think of the quake as an iceberg – with 90% of the damage unable to be seen. A lot of the houses that are being written off are fine to live in at the moment and if you drove past them you wouldn’t realise anything was wrong. The problem with most of them is that they’ve subsided in one corner a little and with a concrete slab that’s normally enough to write it off. For reasons I don’t fully understand it’s apparently feasible to jack up a house on piles, but not one that’s concrete slab.

      And re drainlaying – in Christchurch the sewerage is largely sent out to the treatment plants by a combination of gravity and pumps. Given that the city is extremely flat the skills involved in getting the angles correct is very difficult to do it right. Don’t think of it as a straight line. Think of it as a vertical zig-zag with pumps being used to lift waste up to the next gravity portion.

      Will reserve judgement on EQC for another 6 months. There’s no way they’ll have seen all the properties by this time next year based on the numbers they’ve seen so far and the reasonably large number that require a second revisit due to either additional damage from the aftershocks, or a poor initial review.

      One factor that’s largely gone unreported is the high levels of underinsurance in the commercial sector. We’re pretty terrible at insuring the right levels in New Zealand, but Christchurch is the worst at it. It’s all about cheap premiums… this has caused some significant issues in areas around Sydenham, for instance, where businesses that share the same building have various degrees of coverage and aren’t governed by a body corporate.

      If we’re fixed in 7 years time I’ll be very, very impressed. Gisborne still hasn’t been fixed and that quake was 3 years ago, much smaller, and far less damage.

      • Swampy 7.1.1

        Pile houses have a solid frame underneath and you can get under easily to jack them up
        You can’t do that with a concrete slab. the bottom boards sit directly on the concrete and are fixed in with bolts of reinforcing that goes directly into the slab. cant get at those without ripping the walls out and then i would guess the make the slab very strong so the wood at the bottom is much weaker than a pile house would, you could lift up a wall and it would pull away.
        however I am not a builder so Im just guessing but the concrete slab is so strong it would make sense that the house doesn’t need a separate frame at the bottom for strenght

        EQC have been a shambles and have been flacked in the media a lot and the claims deadline has only jjust gone so they have tons of work yet

  8. Sean Brooks 8

    This town went down hill fast, when Gary Moore was Mayor. He didnt listen to the public when they told him he had to get on top on youth crime at night. His answer was and I quote “BS” he for some reason didn’t think we had a youuth crime problem now its out of control.

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