“Earthquake” Issues in Christchurch

Some one asked me what the issues were about in Christchurch so here goes:

This is a short summary in a pine nut shell. Most of these are management issues or lack of.  The earthquakes are the least of our worries.

The protest by approximately 4000 people ( average age 40 years old, I would estimate) at the Christchurch City Council was interesting, unfortunately I feel they have the wrong target in their sights.  The cause of the protest was supposedly the $68,000 pay rise for the CEO Tony Marryat.  But there are a whole heap of issues:

Dysfunctional council and councillors (overruled by CERA), Lack of communication (cause CERA and Council), Residential Red Zone owners being unhappy, sewerage, water, liquefaction, Insurance issues, repair issues, housing issues, lack cheap housing, lack of rentals, price gouging by landlords, contractors, shoddy repairs, no repairs etc. There are families heading for another winter in leaking houses. The red zoners are also finding that the only houses that they can afford to buy are well out on the city fringes.  Also most houses that are for sale are now overpriced by between $100,000 – $150,000 and many have significant damage. Most of these issues can be sheeted back to the Council and CERA.  ( Land issues are to do with consents).

Orange Zoners: (ie land status not clarified)- How long do we actually have to wait before the decisions are made re the status of the land.  Occupants in the Orange Zone are worried that there will be no houses left for them to buy, at an affordable price, they are living in appalling conditions, ie no repairs being done to houses, roads, water lines etc. (Issues caused by CERA and Council). Many are still using chemi toilets!

Unemployment is high, the figures will only start to show up now as the loss of Business Interruption insurance runs out. There is a loss of skilled labour as the young pour out of the city to other areas. There is also a marked lack of facilities in the town to go to for a night out.  (Especially on the East side, and it’s still a nightmare to try to get to the west side). The roads are just one big pothole.

Repairs/rebuilding  have not started in the seriously damaged residential areas, as the insurance companies are stalling. ( This is leaving people living in appalling conditions, I am a case in point, but at least I am watertight  and have facilities.)

The CBD is badly damaged, and looks like a bomb site, a lot of damage has been caused by the inaction of the insurance companies and the slowness of CERA to allow access. ie The Insurance companies did not try to mitigate damage, and we have damage on damage on damage, and in many cases it has pushed the buildings beyond the point of repair.  Most of the brick buildings are down and now all the modern concrete buildings are being demolished. CERA has created a paper war /red tape/administration bottleneck, stalling the CBD rebuild).  Most of the city’s population does not yet realise what the CBD really looks like and few of them care any more.

The building owners are now taking the insurance money being paid out, and buying properties in Auckland and other areas, that are giving them an instant return on capital. They will not be returning to the CHCH CBD.

In High Street, the fact that we were so adamant that the street should not be demolished has actually slowed the demolition in our area, and this is going to slow the repairs of our block even further.  One could say that we are being penalised for trying to save our block.

This is similar to what happened In Kobe, Japan 1995, the areas that were ” difficult to handle” ie argumentative, were the last to be opened.

The slowness of opening the main arteries through the city, although the areas have been clear felled, is hampering access across the city, and is stalling the recovery/ rebuild. (As a building owner access to our site is IMPOSSIBLE.  (This has slowed repairs to a snail’s pace.)

The problems of lack of competent Engineers in the city has slowed repairs and assessments.

The labour issues are only now becoming apparent as builders/contractors give up waiting for the repair work to begin and move out-of-town. Price gouging by contractors is going to be a biggie!

EQC.  This is a major.  They do need an overhaul. The duplication of work by EQC and the Insurance companies has been pointless.  (ie a case in point would be the scoping reports done by both organisations).  Payments for contents insurance has been a rort, almost everyone one in the city has a new flat screen tV!  (Damn I missed out there!). General frustration levels are at an all time high!

Some of the damage being repaired is not EQ damage, and they seem unable to turn down requests to replace 60-year-old  “damaged” asbestos roofs and replace 100-year-old wooden rotten floors, piles and the like.   Cargo cult at its worst!

ps a message to my brother-in-law.  You suggested that the people in CHCH were traumatized. Some are, particularly the old, frail, infirm, But overall I dispute this.  The word is Survival.  It’s not the earthquakes that are the problem it is the bureaucracy.  And most of these issues can be placed squarely in the hands of CERA/Government/Council.

The word debacle comes to mind.


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