Christchurch rebuild not on track

By Bill Bennett

CERA Chief Executive Roger Sutton. Photo / NZPA
CERA Chief Executive Roger Sutton. Photo / NZPA

Frustration with the speed of Christchurch's rebuild shows clearly in the Mood of the Boardroom survey with 56 per cent of chief executives saying insufficient progress is being made.

It's a sentiment acknowledged last week by earthquake recovery boss Roger Sutton who said the rebuild is "getting up to speed" with more than $150 million now being spent every month.

The Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) drew up a blueprint for the rebuild over a year ago. Yet despite the money and the plan, survey respondents report there's still little evidence of work under way, especially in the Christchurch CBD.

Simpson Grierson's chairman Kevin Jaffe said: "It is still very much work in progress, but the clear direction is there". Independent director Alison Paterson has a more positive view saying there is progress.

Goodman Fielder CEO Peter Reidie makes an unfavourable comparison with the Japanese rebuild. He said progress in Christchurch is "far too slow".

In Christchurch last week Sutton said when compared to other cities that had suffered disasters, such as New Orleans, Christchurch was doing much better.

Lyttelton Port chief executive Peter Davie says Christchurch City Council is a major block to progress. Stephen Selwood of the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development puts the focus on the city's leadership saying it is "time for united visionary leadership across the region".

Matthew Cockram, Cooper and Company CEO offers a more nuanced view: "On the face of it, yes for infrastructure and utilities. The glaring problem is the CBD which is becoming rapidly irrelevant". Other commenters point the finger at government inaction and there is a clear sense of anger at the response from insurance companies. "Government has not committed to fund anchor projects - hence an appalling lack of progress on CBD. Christchurch city is becoming a doughnut with all new investment occurring outside the CBD";

"Unnecessary holdups ... due to protracted insurance negotiations and lack of progress on land issues in the CBD"; "Government should also consider legislating to minimise insurance company gaming. This represents a risk area for 2014 election."

- NZ Herald

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