Manawatu Gorge – A Tinderbox Waiting to Happen!
Manawatu Gorge – A tinderbox waiting to happen!
July 17th 2017 - Long-Tem Solution needed for Manawatu Gorge – Previous requests went unheard.
In January 2012 the Manawatu Chamber of Commerce asked the Government to address the Manawatu Gorge road as a matter of urgency for the Lower North Island’s (LNI) economy. Requesting a long-term solution and not a short-term fix. “No-one wants a continuation of the situation whereby every five years the Gorge is shut by a major slip closing the road for at least a month, with many minor hiccups throughout the year disrupting local businesses and adding unnecessary costs.”
Five years later sadly that prophecy has come true with an even more devastating outcome than was foreseen. The recent announcement to close the Manawatu Gorge (for safety reasons) until further notice is causing real hardship in terms of socio-economic (cause/effect) for our region, and there are questions that need answering.
The closure of the Gorge portion of State Highway 3 has forced motorists and trucking firms to use the Saddle Road and Pahiatua track alternatives to link through to Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa costing both in time and extra transport costs, i.e. fuel and labour.
“Companies are acutely aware of not just the damage to their own businesses but to the Manawatu’s and the LNI’s general economic standing. This is a major concern for our region’s growth.” said Acting Chief Executive Amanda Linsley. “These concerns are also echoed by the Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce and the business community in Woodville who are suffering during this time. The strategic importance of the Manawatu as a distribution hub is being overlooked.” Of greater concern is the overall effect to the Lower North Island economy.
“Whilst politicians quibble again now in 2017 about the best solution going forward, this situation has been a tinder-box since 2012 and probably before. There needs to be urgent discussion and a decision made about the possible alternatives and a plan put in place for the long-term without further delay” said Ms Linsley.
“Manawatu, Tararua, Hawkes Bay, Whanganui and Horowhenua businesses would welcome a visit from the Minister of Transport to hear their concerns for the urgent need to address the significant impact on business; but frankly these concerns are well known, and now is the time for action.”