OPINION: Workers' village big boost for Kaikoura economy

Site of the 300-bed workers accommodation village in Ludstone Rd Kaikoura.

Site of the 300-bed workers accommodation village in Ludstone Rd Kaikoura.

OPINION: The new workers village on the outskirts of Kaikoura is not only a huge step towards the effort to re-open State Highway 1 and the railway line, but a great boost for the local economy.

It's fantastic to see that not only the temporary camp, but the road restoration itself, is providing jobs to Kaikoura people at a time when this community really needs it.

The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance, which is behind the road restoration, anticipates the camp will be required for about 18 months.

There's no doubt that some Kaikoura businesses are struggling post-earthquake, and they still have this winter to get through before the road re-opens and the summer tourist season commences.

So it was heartening to see that a number of Kaikoura's tourism operations staff, who currently have no work due to the affects of the earthquake, have picked up jobs within the road rebuild, which currently has 400 staff on site.

I recently visited a section of SH1 with Civil Defence Minister Nathan Guy and was pleased to learn that most of the traffic management staff there are Kaikoura locals.

Contractors are spending about a million and a half dollars a day at the moment, which is a huge amount of stimulus for the Kaikoura community.

I have also visited the site of the new camp, where units are now in place and being connected to Kaikoura's town services including sewage, water and power, with the first section of camp due to open this week.

The facility, with 300 beds, needs 21 people to manage it, and 19 of those are locals.

Those living at the facility will have their breakfast and lunch made largely by Kaikoura people.

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For dinner, they will be taken by bus to various restaurants around town. As the camp is just a short distance from Kaikoura's centre, workers may also choose to use other services and retail during their time off.

Of course, the camp residents are not the only road and railway workers staying in town, and some accommodation providers already lease units for workers to use, bringing more much-needed income during this challenging time.

Communities north of Kaikoura are also benefitting, with a number of people associated with the road restoration now based in leased accommodation around Clarence. I have been told more workers are looking for places to stay in that area.

For the local owners of these properties, this means some unexpected and no doubt welcome extra income.

In short, the support for businesses in the Kaikoura district thanks to the road and railway rebuild is quite significant.

For some, it's a silver lining in a challenging situation.

 - The Marlborough Express

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