Quake repairs 'not fast enough' says Sutton

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 13:52 13/11/2013

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The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) says private insurers have settled less than half their residential claims and need to pick up the pace if all claims are to be settled by 2016.

Speaking to the Government's Finance and Expenditure Committee, Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said work was well underway, but a long way off being complete. 

"The EQC people are now half way through their physical work programme. The private insurers have settled about 40 per cent of their claims, but a lot of those have been cash settlements. 

"But they're now well under way with their repair and rebuild work also." 

He said the insurers rate of work was "about four times as high" as it was a year ago. 

"But it still needs to increase by roughly 50 per cent if we're going to get through and complete all their work by 2016 - which is the time frame most insurers talk about getting their work done by."

Earlier this month, the Insurance Council said insurers involved in the Canterbury rebuild had either completed or agreed resolution for 87 per cent of their residential property claims.

Data collected by Cera to October 1 showed of the 24,660 dwellings with insurers, 21,250 were fully completed or in progress.

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said insurers were trying to prioritise those in vulnerable situations. 

"To date insurers have completed 1240 major repairs and rebuilds, 540 of those just in the last three months, confirming the residential recovery of Canterbury is definitely ramping up," he said.

Sutton said about 3000 of the 8000 properties in the red zone that needed to be cleared, had been. 

"There were still about 200 or 250 families still living in the red zone,  some of them are stayers, some are leaving and some are building houses and we're working through with those families at the moment. 

"But we want to have those demolitions completed on the flat part of the red zone by April 2015. "

He said the rebuild of infrastructure and the CBD had "turned a corner" in the past year.

He said both the EQC and private insurers were spending about $15 million a month on the infrastructure programme. 

But he denied claims from MPs that Cera had a culture of knocking down buildings that didn't fit the city's blueprint.
Many buildings throughout Christchurch might appear solid enough, but the costs of rebuilding them did not stack up, he said.

"If you walk around the outside of the town hall you'd say that actually looks pretty good as well, but ... you'd have to say it's going to take roughly the same amount of money to build a new one as it's going to [to repair]."

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- The Press

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