Coromandel publican sells up after on-going Thames Coast Rd closures

Teresa Ramsey / Stuff.co.nz

Tapu pub owner sells up after on-going Thames Coast Rd closures.

Tapu publican Bruce Efford has sold his business after on-going Thames Coast Rd closures cost him about $80,000 in earnings.

The major Coromandel road has been regularly closed by more than 100 slips since March.

However, Efford said it was lack of communication between New Zealand Transport Agency, the contractors working on State Highway 25 and the public that had cost him his business. 

"The weather and the slips you can expect, but it's when they tell you the road's closed and it's not. What's happening is that people are too scared to come down," he said.

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His Royal Oak Hotel has seven rooms for people to stay in.

Tapu's Royal Oak Hotel owner Bruce Efford will miss being the local publican.
TERESA RAMSEY/STUFF

Tapu's Royal Oak Hotel owner Bruce Efford will miss being the local publican.

"Over Easter, they all cancelled but the road was open, and [NZTA] were saying it was closed, and that is what's killed it."

Efford estimated he lost $20,000 in turnover over Easter weekend. He said Easter and other long weekends was when local businesses made enough money to get them through the winter.

"We've all lost out on all that. And so you've got to go through the winter with a great big overdraft, so for the next few years, I'll be paying it off. Businesses like me can't afford to keep going."

Tapu's Royal Oak Hotel owner Bruce Efford outside the hotel he's selling off.
TERESA RAMSEY/STUFF

Tapu's Royal Oak Hotel owner Bruce Efford outside the hotel he's selling off.

The on-going slips and uncertainty over road closures meant fewer visitors and cancellations, Efford said.

SO he's decided to sell the hotel and concentrate on his other business, the Tapu Motor Camp.

"It's really forced me into a situation where I get rid of the pub, or the camp, because I can't afford the overdraft on both."

Contractors work to fix the slip between Tapu and Waiomu which closed the road for nearly a week in April.
SUPPLIED

Contractors work to fix the slip between Tapu and Waiomu which closed the road for nearly a week in April.

"They [NZTA] are blaming the weather, it's not the weather, it's the communications. They just don't care."

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Efford believed vibrations from heavy trucks contributed to the slips and trucks should be banned on the road for a few months until the cliffs dried out.

Upgrading the road north of Waiomu was stopped in the 1990s by protesters, who wanted to protect pohutukawa trees, he said.

Lack of maintenance on the road over the past few years had also contributed to the problem, with potholes, road subsidence and other problems dating back to before the bad weather in April, he said.

"All this work has not been done, the road has not been managed and of course, it's just falling apart."

Efford grew up on the Thames Coast, where his family settled in the 1870s. He has owned the hotel and bar for 15 years wasn't happy to have to sell it, he said.

"I've lived here all my life and I've never ever seen the road this bad before."

NZTA Waikato transport system manager Karen Boyt said an unusually high amount of disruption to the road through slips, floods and rockfalls was a result of three weather systems each with the effects of a one in 100 year storm. 

"We understand and regret the impact the closure of the Thames Coast Road has on people who use the road," she said.

"This is an issue we are taking very seriously and we are addressing."

Proactive work on the road was planned over the next year.

 - Stuff

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