Urgent tsunami action demanded

By John Cousins


A group of Papamoa residents, fed up with what they see as council procrastination on tsunami issues, has called for a freeze on the development of greenfield subdivisions in Papamoa East until roading issues are solved.

The newly formed Papamoa Evacuation and Road Safety Group is concerned at the lack of direction on evacuation routes and alternative roads out of Papamoa if the big one arrives.

"There is a significant amount of anxiety in the community," said Rick Hannay, one of the group's founder members. He said walking inland was a pretty hopeless option when a tsunami generated in the Kermadec Trench had an arrival time of 50 minutes. That was highlighted by a recent tsunami evacuation exercise by a local school.

The group was alarmed the council had approved the development of another 1000 sections centred on Wairakei, when traffic would still be channelled down an already overstretched Papamoa Beach Rd for another 10 years.

The development of Palm Springs, Golden Sands, Emerald Shores and Excelsior subdivisions had added to the pressure on Papamoa Beach Rd.

"There is a whole lot of commentary but nothing from the powers that be that will make a difference in the event of a tsunami," Mr Hannay said.

He recalled the "pandemonium" in the 2009 Samoan alert, when the main roads came to a standstill in five to six minutes in Papamoa East.

Papamoa Beach Rd and Parton Rd were the pipelines in the event of an emergency and he predicted it would still be bedlam even after the Tauranga Eastern Link was finished.

John Middleton said Te Okuroa Drive was on the backburner and there should be a freeze on new greenfield subdivisions until the road and its links had been formed.

"If there was a tsunami, there would be absolute chaos. All the development is taking place without any consideration for getting out of the place."

Paul Melhuish said there were excessive speed and noise issues on Papamoa Beach Rd. "The road is being thrashed."

Mayor Stuart Crosby said he had a long conversation with Mr Hannay and planned to meet the group on April 30 to share as much information as the council and other agencies had about issues raised by the group.

"Clearly, they don't have all the information to make informed decisions."

He said the group members were level headed and genuinely concerned about issues at Papamoa, and the council wanted to work with them.


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