Kaikoura tradies finding it tough keeping up with work post-earthquake

Harthews Electrical owner Kim Matthews is one of many tradespeople finding it difficult to keep up with work post-earthquake.
PIPPA BROWN

Harthews Electrical owner Kim Matthews is one of many tradespeople finding it difficult to keep up with work post-earthquake.

Kaikoura tradiesĀ are coming under increasing pressure to complete work.

Since the November magnitude 7.8 earthquake demand for trade services has skyrocketed to the point where many feel they can't take time off without upsetting customers, or their work schedule.

Harthews Electrical owner Kim Matthews said he was "absolutely worn out".

As one of five electricians in Kaikoura he was already busy before the earthquake but as the workload increased he just wasn't keeping up.

Matthews said he had lost a few commercial clients whose buildings had been red-stickered, and jobs from other companies who weren't working at their full capacity, but had since been asked to take on more commercial work for major contractors in town - and was still not keeping up.

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Matthews, who does mostly commercial electrical work, said the town was going to take a long time to recuperate and it would be good to have more electricians to do private work, although bringing more people in was "awkward" because it would create another problem when there was a shortage of accommodation.

"People in town need to get their houses up and functioning - it is quite depressing living in those houses.

"It would be nice to get that work going ahead fast."

As a self-employed businessman he said it was difficult to regulate his working week.

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"Depending on how many callouts and urgent calls I get, the whole day can go to pack.

"It would be really helpful if the roads were open."

Matthews had recently travelled to Mt Lyford on the Inland Rd, which took two hours out of his day. Clients living south were even more difficult to get to and the only way to reach the area was by taking the once-a-day escorted convoy through quake-damaged roads to Oaro, leaving at 7.15am and returning at 5.15pm.

"It's takes the whole day out.

"It's not a very productive day when you have to do that," Matthews said.

Another electrical contractor, who didn't want to be named said he has been "run ragged" and was turning work away constantly.

"The problem for me as a sole operator was to balance out the work since the earthquake.

"If you look at the big picture there's been a shortage of tradesmen and builders, but it was the same all over New Zealand..

"It's not just specific to Kaikoura, but the earthquake has put us under a lot of pressure.

"I'm focusing on the long-standing customers and doing the best I can," he said.

 - The Marlborough Express

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