Infrastructure rebuild overseer 'committed'
The man tasked with overseeing Christchurch's infrastructure rebuild says he is committed to the city's recovery, despite working from Auckland part-time.
Watercare Auckland chief executive Mark Ford was last month named independent chairman of the Client Governance Group, which manages the $2.2 billion budget for repairing the city's quake-damaged roading, sewerage and water networks.
He will oversee the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) – a joint partnership of Christchurch City Council, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and NZ Transport Agency – and its work with contractors.
Ford will remain in Auckland, sharing his time among Watercare, Scirt and other roles.
Ford told The Press personal commitments meant he could not move to Christchurch for his four-year term as chairman.
"I can't move down here, I've got a family and my wife works.
"I've got no issue if I was single moving down here, but I can't disrupt that for what is only a term appointment," he said.
Ford said he had been visiting the city "probably once a week" since he was appointed, and would increase the frequency of visits as necessary.
While there was no formal expectation of the hours a week, he would work in the role he was committed to ensuring the rebuild was a success.
"I've got confidence in myself, the confidence that comes from being involved in major projects over time.
"I wouldn't have done this if I didn't think I could add some value."
Ford said he was looking forward to working with Cera and the council, and was not concerned about reports of tensions between the two.
"I've read it and I've heard it, but in this structure, I've met exceedingly competent people who are managing the process very well."
He believed Scirt needed to improve its communication to ensure that residents were aware of the amount of work being done.
"There's a staggering amount of work going on, but I'm not sure the people of Christchurch know that yet."
The public needed to have a better understanding of the alliance's programme of repairs, which outlined when infrastructure repairs would take place throughout the city.
"OK, so it's a five-year programme, and [their repairs] may be in the fifth year, but at least they'll know that – at the moment, they don't know that."
Ford, who oversaw the establishment of the Auckland super-city, said the "size and scale" of the infrastructure rebuild had attracted him to the role.
"I love difficult jobs, and this is a difficult job ... it's about the complexity, working with communities, getting buy-in and delivering on time."
He wanted to give residents confidence the city's recovery was on track.
"People have got to be given hope, and know that there's an end point to this," Ford said.
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