Waimakariri repair jobs behind schedule

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012

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A third of the repair jobs to earthquake-damaged infrastructure in the Waimakariri district are behind schedule.

The estimated total repair bill to fix assets including water, sewerage and wastewater systems has also jumped by $8.7 million, but council staff are confident work will finish as forecast without costing ratepayers any more.

Waimakariri District Council currently has 42 repair jobs on its books.

Three have finished and 14 are yet to start, but of the remaining 25, 14 are behind programme.

Their estimated cost has grown from $23m to $31.7m.

Council chief executive Jim Palmer said a challenging contracting market was behind the delays.

"Some of the contracts we've put to the market we haven't had as much contractor interest as we would like."

The council had talked with contracting companies about how to make projects more appealing, he said.

The council was sticking to its original deadline of mid-2015 to finish repairs, he said.

"While 14 are behind programme, [the timetable is] not needing to be rejigged."

Increased costs were due to market changes and "a better understanding" of the work required, he said.

"That doesn't translate into extra cost for ratepayers. We think that is recoverable either through insurance or Government contribution, particularly for underground infrastructure."

In Christchurch, repairs are "on track", but work is under way to make information about how much they cost and how long they take easier to understand.

Christchurch City councillor Sue Wells said Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) staff could provide updates about the cost and time taken for infrastructure repairs, but the data was not user-friendly.

"It's available [but] it's not particularly easy to interpret.

"We've already expressed that we would like it displayed so that the public can understand that without a Q&A.

"We're well aware that that's information that the public wants to understand without having to have an interpretation."

Wells was concerned the public and media, including The Press, did not take more interest in the process.

"Although we're spending $40m a month, people seem to be more interested in who said what about whom than the real business of council."

Scirt infrastructure rebuild leader Will Doughty said the initial focus was on prioritising repairs and getting work started rather than performance metrics.

They were now being developed, he said, and should be available by early next year.

Scirt was "progressing well against targets" on infrastructure repairs, he said.

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