Public-private deal struck to repair services

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 04/05/2011
Gerry Brownlee, Bob Parker and Steven Joyce
DAVID HALLETT/The Press
ROAD TO RECOVERY: Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and Transport Minister Steven Joyce have signed a public-private agreement for work to restore the city's broken infrastructure.

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Christchurch earthquake

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A public-private hybrid will oversee rebuilding Christchurch's quake-battered infrastructure, spending an estimated $2 billion and employing up to 2000 workers.

Yesterday, government ministers, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and other officials gathered to sign an "alliance" agreement with five private contractors charged with rebuilding the city's infrastructure.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the contractors would have a huge job, repairing kilometres of cracked roads, sewers and water pipes.

"We don't know what we are dealing with size-wise so a collaborative approach is necessary," he said.

How long the rebuild would take was uncertain, but it might take up to five years before some streets had a permanent fix to roads, sewerage, stormwater and water.

The Christchurch City Council has estimated the "alliance" infrastructure rebuild will employ between 1000 and 2000 people costing about $2b. About 40 per cent of this cost will be for wastewater, 30 per cent for roading with the remainder being made up of water, stormwater and other facilities.

About 300 kilometres of sewerage pipes, 150km of water pipes and 75km of stormwater pipes are damaged.

A total of 34km of roading will need to be completely rebuilt, with another 895km needing repairs.

The contractors involved in the rebuild are Fulton Hogan, Downer Construction, Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell and City Care.

Council capital programme general manager Kevin Locke said the alliance agreement would create a 300-strong "integrated team", which would then assign jobs to the five companies.

The team will comprise staff from the five companies, the council and government departments. It will be overseen by a board with representatives from the five companies, the council, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Companies will be awarded contracts through a carrot and stick system, with more work and bonuses for completing jobs on time to a high standard. Equally, companies that fail to perform will be sidelined and face financial penalties.

Locke said there was no conflict of interest in effectively having private companies involved in deciding whether to allocate jobs to themselves or their competitors.

"Council, NZTA and Cera will be involved to make sure it is fair and above board."

The cost would be met by the council, NZTA, insurers and central government, although who would pay what had not yet been determined, he said.

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The alliance model was successful in Auckland, including the building of the Manukau Harbour Crossing.

The alliance has four months to report back on a rebuild timetable, with more detailed costings.

- The Press

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