Couriers challenged by roads

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 06:51 14/12/2013

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Christchurch couriers are battling "appalling" road conditions, limited driveway access and vehicle wear and tear to get the job done.

Ian Bekhuis, the regional manager of New Zealand Couriers in the South Island, said the operating environment for couriers after the 2010 earthquakes was challenging.

He echoes sentiments by St John ambulance staff who told The Press damaged roads, traffic congestion and extensive roadworks had become a battlefield for paramedics trying to reach people in need.

The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) has about 200 active work sites around the city, including about 50 in the central city.

Bekhuis said issues such as road work delays, rough surfaces and traffic congestion directly impacted on courier deliveries. But he was "immensely proud" of how his team was coping.

"The couriers are most obviously affected but our customer service teams are successfully dealing with more undeliverable freight due to access issues and people moving - either permanently or temporarily while their homes are being repaired," he said.

Jazz Singh, who has been working in the eastern suburbs for New Zealand Couriers for about five months, said he sometimes faced a 500 metre run to deliver parcels.

"The problem is the road works. I need to park my van far away and run. It's my job. I have to be there on time, because my customers are important," he said.

The 28-year-old said his increased fitness was an unexpected spin- off to his new job, which he took on as a "change", after working as a store manager for many years. "I like driving and I don't like to work inside an office. It's good. I am fitter than before. I used to go to the gym but now I don't need to," he said.

"The area which I am doing is one of the worst [affected] areas in Christchurch. When people get their parcels on time they are really happy."

Bekhuis said the demographic shift in the city to the north, west and satellite towns - particularly Rangiora, Rolleston and West Melton - had placed "huge pressure" on runs in those areas as had business growth in Sockburn, Hornby, Addington and around the Christchurch Airport.

"The roads in the red zone areas have understandably not been repaired at all and are in some cases appalling. Our back office is also impacted with much higher volumes of card left freight. Receivers are simply not at the addresses given for us to deliver the parcels to."

Craig Churchill, the general manager of CourierPost's southern operations, said many of his staff lived within red zone areas.

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They had experienced the impact of the earthquakes first hand.

"They have been determined to keep up good customer service.

"It has not always been easy. We have walked freight to where vehicles haven't been able to get to," he said.

- The Press

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