Auckland Mayor Phil Goff wants answers about safety issues with the Victopia apartment building where a panel blew off yesterday, causing road closures and traffic chaos.
Goff told the Herald that public safety has to be the paramount consideration after engineers inspected the apartment tower at 7am and discovered more loose panels.
"Steps need to be taken to deal with the risk of further panels falling and we hope that can be done as quickly as possible," he said.
"I expect council officers to be asking hard questions of the building owner about the safety of the panels on this building.
Goff said the council and Auckland Transport staff were working with the Victopia building owners to ensure work is done to the proper standard as fast as possible.
Ian Harris, who represents the corporate body for repair works on the building, said the intention was to employ an abseil company today to throw a net over the side of the building to ensure no more panels fell on to the street.
"We want to get it done today as fast as we possibly can," he said.
Harris said about 20 per cent of the 203 apartments were empty to carry out remedial works on the building, but there are no safety issues for the remaining occupants.
The thoroughfare in central Auckland could remain closed for at least a week - and possibly considerably longer - while safety precautions are taken after the panel blew off in a storm.
Auckland motorists and commuters faced significant delays this morning due to the closure of Victoria St West between Nelson St and Hobson St.
Nelson St is also closed to traffic from the Victoria St intersection to Fanshawe St
Early this morning, city-bound traffic coming off the Southern and Northwestern motorways clogged the intersection of Nelson St and Victoria St. From there traffic was down to a single lane and being diverted towards Victoria Park.
A crane arrived at the building in Victoria St just before 6am Friday to lift an expert up in a basket to inspect the face of the building and assess the risk of further debris falling on to the street below.
A manager for the crane firm, Teak Construction, told the Herald this morning that it was "very likely" scaffolding would have to be erected on the entire street frontage of the 42m-tall apartment building - a job that would normally take three weeks.
The manager, who did not want to be named, said the work could be sped up by using a crane and pulling out all stops, but it would take at least a week.
Talks are under way with a scaffolding company to prepare a contingency plan, he said.
The road would have to remain closed while the scaffolding was erected to provide a barrier for any falling debris, he said. Vehicles and the public would not be allowed in the area.
"It's a public safety issue," said the manager.
A spokeswoman for WorkSafe said the country's health and safety regulator had not been notified about yesterday's incident.
"The incident occurred less than 24 hours ago and there were no injuries involved in the incident, so we might yet be notified. It does sometimes take businesses a day or two to notify, particularly when there are no injuries involved."