Crown and Christchurch council concerned about 'slippage' in Scirt programme

The Christchurch City Council and the Crown have expressed concerns about "slippage" in the rebuild of Christchurch's ...

The Christchurch City Council and the Crown have expressed concerns about "slippage" in the rebuild of Christchurch's earthquake-damaged roads and pipes.

The rebuild of Christchurch's earthquake-damaged pipes and roads is falling behind schedule, with December's completion target looking unlikely.

Both the Crown and the Christchurch City Council have raised concerns about "slippage" in the programme to the board of the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt). 

At the same time, the council has posted a significant under-spend on repairs to the city's horizontal infrastructure – almost $145 million less than budgeted for this financial year.

Burst water mains, like this one in Redcliffs last year, have been problematic in some parts of the city during the ...

Burst water mains, like this one in Redcliffs last year, have been problematic in some parts of the city during the Scirt programme.

Scirt was still working towards completing the programme by the end of the year, but the council said "individual projects may be shuffled".

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Scirt was made up of "owner participants" – the council, the NZ Transport Agency and the now-defunct Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority – and five major construction companies, referred to as "non-owner participants".

Director of the Government's Greater Christchurch Group Kelvan Smith said the council and the Crown continued to "closely monitor" Scirt's schedule, but the intention remained for Scirt to complete the programme by December 31.

"As with any programme of this scale there are challenges and while Scirt is 88 per cent of the way through the entire programme, there are 151 projects still to be completed."

Smith said the $2.2 billion programme had consisted of 726 projects in total.

The issues were not related to funding, he said. 

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Information provided to the council's infrastructure, transport and environment committee earlier this month hinted at the programme's problems.

Scirt's owner participants had "expressed some concerns" to the Scirt board last month. The concerns related "slippage in the programme, the increasing volume of work still at the hand over gate and the low volumes coming through the construction completion gate".

Meanwhile, a council report from March showed for the year to date, $258.3m had been spent on infrastructure repairs – $144.7m less than budgeted. 

By the end of the financial year, the council was forecasting a $142.7m difference between its budgeted and actual spend.

It meant the council would have spent $373m on damaged infrastructure in the 2015-16 financial year, rather than the $515.4m budgeted. 

Councillor Raf Manji​ said an "under-spend and under delivery" on the Scirt programme had been an issue for a while. 

The programme stalled last year during a funding disagreement with the Crown, Manji said. 

In December, the Government announced it would not help fund repairs to damaged roads and pipes that were near the end of their life when the earthquakes happened.

As a result, the council needed to find an extra $75m to complete the programme. 

"This just has a knock-on effect . . . and you lose some of those efficiencies."

Asked about the probability of Scirt completing its work on time, Manji said the council had learnt the hard way about "overly optimistic" estimates since the earthquakes.

"The reality is that things might take a little longer and there will be challenges."

Cr David East said there would "likely be a rush" to try and get the programme completed on time. 

"Traditionally we have over-budgeted in terms of what we can achieve and in what time."

The council was conscious of being more realistic with timelines now, he said. 

Council general manager of city services Dave Adamson said the Scirt programme had probably been "the most complicated horizontal programme ever delivered" in New Zealand.

"This means coordination of a wide range of things including design, material supply, consents and contracting resources. 

"Currently Scirt is saying it can juggle these things so there will be no delay to the overall programme but individual projects may be shuffled," Adamson said. 

The issues raised at the board meeting related to ensuring works were completed and handed over as early as possible, he said. 

Scirt had appointed a dedicated completions team and there was a "significant improvement in construction completion" and a continued focus on delivering by the December date, Adamson said. 

 - Stuff


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