More workers needed to rebuild infrastructure

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 05:00 30/01/2013

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The construction team charged with fixing Christchurch's roads and water pipes is looking to beef up its 1700-plus work force by another 400 people by May/June as it ramps up work on the $2 billion repair of Christchurch's horizontal infrastructure.

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) already has more than 1700 people involved in the infrastructure rebuild.

To date Scirt had completed 175 projects totalling $95.4 million in repairing and rebuilding Christchurch's horizontal infrastructure. Add to that another 62 projects "practically complete" and that takes the total to $109 million, Scirt executive general manager Duncan Gibb said.

"We've got over 300 people out in the field putting cameras down pipes, flushing out pipes, doing geotechnical investigation . . . and they are now about 60 to 65 per cent of the way complete in assessing the damage we have," Gibb said.

Scirt delivery manager Tony Gallagher said construction spend was forecast to climb throughout this year, peak in 2014 and taper off in 2015 and 2016. Next year would be an "extremely charged market", he said.

Scirt now had 1100 pairs of boots on sites across 98 different projects. Scirt resources manager Sean Walsh said there were also about another 700 people in the organisation's head office, working in Scirt's asset investigation, survey and administration teams.

Scirt was now ramping up, Walsh said, looking to hire another 400 people by about May or June. "Which is a little bit of a challenge at the moment," he said.

The infrastructure repair team had surveyed local civil engineering contractors at the end of last year and more than half had said they were "very busy" or "extremely busy" already, and about three quarters of them did not have any more capacity for Scirt work.

"So there's a heavy emphasis on training to try and get those extra people," Walsh said.

Scirt was also working with contractors in other parts of New Zealand to source labour.

Scirt's For Real recruitment drive had attracted more than 2000 responses and a potential 394 recruits had been identified. Another 270 had been referred to the Canterbury Skills Hub and just more than 100 were "work ready", Gibb said.

Scirt was acting as a broker and matching up workers with contractors who needed to hire more staff. "We think it's been quite successful in attracting people," Gibb said.

On the design front, Scirt design manager Stephen Wright said the organisation had 180 designers working in its offices, from 14 different companies who had contributed designers.

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"So we've drained most of the local resources," he said.

Scirt needed external consultants to review its designs and ensure those designs were robust, he said. Preferably, they would be able to work remotely.

To date Scirt has laid 20.5km of fresh water pipe, 104km of wastewater pipe and 6.1km of stormwater pipe. It has assessed 965km of the 1610km of wastewater network needing assessment, and 815km of the 1080km of affected storm water network.

- The Press

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