Comment: Gisborne's roads have deteriorated to the point people are frightened to drive on them, writes Federated Farmers Regional Senior Policy Advisor Debbie Bidlake.
Gisborne roads have potholes the size of elephants, inadequate drainage and almost zero dust suppression. All of this causes safety issues and hits peoples' wallets.
From wear and tear on vehicles to stock and grain trucks having to load trailer units separately because some roads are not up to scratch.
These problems are exacerbated by congestion from forestry trucks. Even our posties have had a guts full and are threatening to stop rural delivery services.
Federated Farmers is so concerned about maintenance that we recently sent an official information request to the Gisborne District Council.
Read more from Federated Farmers here.
What has the council spent rates revenue (including a 5.4 per cent increase from 2018 in the Long Term Plan) and the NZTA Road Funding Assistance Rate (68 per cent subsidy) on?
The council's response was that this is too difficult and time consuming a question to answer. This seems crazy to me.
The council has to update asset management plans and plan road expenditure each year.
How can it do these things without knowing and having information about past upgrades and expenditure readily available?
The recent dissolution of the Tairawhiti Roads partnership between the council and NZTA is a relief.
Since its 2015 inception, Gisborne's roads have deteriorated to the point people are frightened to drive on them.
The council told farmers who attended recent community engagement meetings that not all maintenance delays relate to partnership issues.
We can only hope upcoming local government elections will inject new energy and focus into council to help resolve roading issues.
While a change in partnership models is unlikely to magic beautifully manicured roads for Gisborne residents, it is too early to know what the new structure will look like.
However, we can expect some improvements, like a single point of contact for complaints.
There's a few basic things farmers expect in a new partnership.
• Reinstatement of local road service crews so emergency work is completed quickly and local knowledge informs upgrade programmes.
• Formal MOUs between council and all forestry companies e.g. harvest plans, traffic volume and hours of operation and road maintenance responsibilities. Individual residents should not have to negotiate with forestry companies just to get children to school safety. Nor should they have to foot the bill for RT systems to avoid collisions with forestry trucks.
• Prompt and transparent actioning of requests for service, particularly on safety issues. Currently residents are having to make multiple requests and putting up with lengthy delays and council decisions are poorly communicated.
Make sure you are registered to vote in the council elections this year, and make a practical vision for the Gisborne road network a key criteria.