Cost savings on infrastructure repair: false economy?

Approximately $2 million a day is spent on repairing horizontal infrastructure (such as roading and pipes) in Christchurch. The Press has reported today that this level of funding cannot last, and accordingly, some streets in the city may remain unrepaired for decades. (Click here to read the article).

As the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT) has been working from east to west, the bulk of unrepaired infrastructure is expected to be in the west of the city.

Authorities have now modified their approach to concentrate on the worst-hit areas, doing only patch-work repairs where possible, and prioritising roads with high volumes of traffic. Further measures are being taken to reduce costs through negotiating savings with contractors, and revising the standards to which the network is being built.

While saving costs in the interim, this approach may have long-term implications for ratepayers, as it is likely repairs will be left for the council to effect at a later stage.

Councillor Yani Johanson has expressed concern false economies are being made, and council facilities and infrastructure rebuild director David Adamson acknowledges that ‘we may be left with some roads that are not appropriate for a first-world city’.

The horizontal infrastructure repair reached its halfway mark in August. The current situation seems a far cry from Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee’s August press release, which proclaimed that the horizontal infrastructure rebuild would be completed by the end of 2016.

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