Theft stirs up anger

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
Squegee
ANNA LOREN

MUCKING ABOUT: Condemning the theft of the purpose-built trailer are, from left: Local boaties Chris Lockett and Tony Grima, trailer owner Bill Kirk and boatie Lou Gibb.

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SILT SQUEEGEE: Bill Kirk’s trailer clears mud and silt from the Mangere Bridge boat ramp.

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Bill Kirk is no stick in the mud.

But the theft of his muck-pushing trailer has him crying foul.

And he's worried it could have serious safety consequences for boaties and the Coastguard.

The Mangere Bridge man has spent the last decade clearing mud and silt from the boat ramp.

Poor water quality and urban run-off means the sticky mire can build up to knee height, making it difficult and dangerous to get boats in and out.

"The full depth of the tyre is in mud and when it comes up there's mud sticking all over it," Mr Kirk says.

"It ends up on the trailers and all over the streets."

Chris Lockett, the former commodore of Mangere Boating Club, says the muck is "absolutely shocking".

"Your axles are almost submerged into the mud."

His daughter slipped in the silt and cut herself on the sharp oyster shells on the side of the boat ramp, he says.

And the sticky mess also makes it difficult for Coastguard boats to get in and out of the water.

It's for those reasons that Mr Kirk heads to the ramp with his trailer every month when there's a low tide.

The trailer, which was bought from a North Shore business over a decade ago, has been modified with a spinning blade and is pretty simple in its design, he says.

"All I'm doing is stirring it up like a washing machine, so I'm emulsifying the mud and it just goes back where it came from."

It was after one of these muck-clearing excursions that the trailer went missing.

It was swiped from the car park at the old Mangere Bridge the weekend before last.

"They've probably only stolen the thing to get the wheels off it - miserable buggers," Mr Kirk says.

Auckland Council spokesman Malcolm Page says the council's maintenance contractor will now take over responsibility for keeping the ramp clean.

"Our coastal team will provide some advice on possible options to do so effectively and in accordance with the rules of the Regional Coastal Plan," Mr Page says.

But Mr Kirk says the last time the council attempted to clear the mud, it tried to take it to the Whitford landfill and sludge ended up leaking out of the sides of the trailer. "By the time they got to the tip there was nothing there, it had all just ended up on the roads of Manukau."

Mr Page says the council has not yet decided whether the mud will be deposited at the landfill or not.

Mr Kirk isn't holding out much hope of getting his trailer back.

"It's probably been chopped up for parts by now.

"I just hope the next time the Coastguard tries to get in there and they can't [the thieves] realise what they've done."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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