"We have no power," says a businesswoman who is fighting depression and faces financial ruin from years of disruption along the route of Auckland's $4.4 billion City Rail Link.
Today, about seven Auckland councillors are due to sit down with small businesses to hear first-hand how works and delays from the rail project are affecting their livelihoods and health.
Heart of the City chief executive Vic Beck has urged Mayor Phil Goff and Transport Minister Phil Twyford to show some "human decency" and urgently set up a hardship fund for about 16 businesses - without any success.
It has been a heavy financial and personal toll for some. The owner of a souvenir business lost an estimated $1 million. After seeing a doctor and a psychiatrist, she was put on medication for depression and has lost a lot of hair.
The Chinese business owner, who does not want to be named, has little hope for today's meeting. Whenever she has approached City Rail Link Ltd, the company set up by the Government and council to build the project, the message has been the same.
"We have no power. If they say no there is nothing we can do. It's really sad," the woman said through an interpreter.
What was urgently needed, Beck said, was a willingness by the Government to engage and come up with something that would work for businesses.
Beck said she understood the Government's reluctance to offer compensation and the precedent it would set.
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She said hardship was different to compensation because it was about people struggling with circumstances outside their control from the extreme length of a project.
Goff reiterated today he was still in discussions with Twyford about "how best to assist those adversely affected by construction", saying governments have ruled out a broad compensation fund because of the potential financial consequences for taxpayers.
Beck said Sydney did not offer compensation for a light rail project, but got to a point where it was recognised the project had gone way over time and they needed to address problems faced by affected businesses.
Up until May this year, 153 Sydney businesses had received $35 million in financial help and the New South Wales Government had addressed the mental health and wellbeing of businesses, Beck said.
She also wants to know how the Government will handle other big projects in the city like the Prime Minister's election promise to build light rail from the city to the airport within four years, which will affect hundreds of businesses in Queen St and about 500 businesses in Dominion Rd.