Bridges outlines future investment for quake-hit Kaikoura region
A message of hope and support was delivered by economic development and transport minister Simon Bridges when he visited Kaikoura last week.
While Bridges revealed the economic impact of the 2016 earthquakes he also announced a business recovery grants programme for quake-affected businesses He also announced that up to $812 million from this year's budget will be provided for reinstating the main highway between Picton and Christchurch
, which is planned to reopen before the end of the year. Funding will also be made available for KiwiRail to continue reinstatement work.
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"The Government's priority is to restore the pre-earthquake transport links to Kaikoura and its surrounding communities, and ensure these vital links are resilient for the long term," Bridges said.
"The total cost of reinstating the road and rail corridors is now estimated to be between $1.1 and $1.33 billion, and reflects the fact that there are a number of uncertainties when dealing with damage and destruction of this scale.
"More than $45 million of work has already been completed since last November's earthquake, including clearing slips and obstructions, undertaking geotechnical assessments, and reinstating rail track," Bridges said.
Bridges and Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith visited the site for the temporary accommodation facility that will house up to 300 skilled workers while they rebuild vital road and rail links along State Highway 1.
We are committing to opening this important route before the end of the year, which is why I announced $812 million worth of funding for this work and up to $240 million for improvements along this vital route, he said.
"Next week this accommodation village will start to take shape for the Kaikoura rebuild.
"It will have 300 skilled workers on site and enable them to do a better and quicker job out on site ensuring this road is built in as quick time as possible."
The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance purpose-built, prefabricated accommodation unit project is in its final stages of resource consent and is expected to be signed off early next week.
The site, on the outskirts of Kaikoura on Ludstone Rd, has been leased for the duration of the project.
The housing units, brought in from Australia, will then start to be shipped in by truck through the Inland Rd and are expected to house the first workers toward the end of May.
Bridges also visited Kaikoura businesses, ITM and Prime Pine, and then flew up the coast to look at progress on the roads north, closed since November.
The Government commissioned report that assessed the economic impact of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake detailed the impact on small businesses and tourism caused by disruptions to transport infrastructure and the economic impacts.
"The quake has had a significant affect on people's lives and businesses which the Government is strongly focused on supporting. As well as the Kaikoura economy, the report shows the national economy has also felt the impact," Bridges said.
The impact on New Zealand's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the first 18 months following the earthquake has been estimated at $450-$500 million - $110-$130 million in Canterbury and $340-$370 million across the rest of New Zealand.
"Increased freight transport costs and impacts on businesses from infrastructure damage and transport disruptions are the two key contributing factors," Bridges said.
"The Government has committed significant resources to getting businesses in the most affected communities back on their feet and repairing or replacing infrastructure."
Work has included work to fully reinstate the State Highway 1 coastal route, upgrading the alternate State Highway route between Picton and Christchurch and a range of business support packages, and support for the tourism industry and the primary sector. There has also been a grant to help with the restoration of Kaikoura Harbour; and temporary accommodation and housing support for residents, including farmers.
Business Recovery Grants for quake-affected businesses will be launched on Monday.
The new Business Recovery Grants Programme is intended to support local businesses until State Highway 1 reopens and replace the Government's Earthquake Support Subsidy.
The new $1m grant programme will be available to eligible business in Kaikoura, Hurunui and Marlborough.
"It's been six-months since the devastating earthquake hit Marlborough and North Canterbury. Some areas have returned to relative normality, but for others it's going to take time to repair roads to bring back traffic, and customers," said Bridges.
- The Marlborough Express