Guru & the Xpressway

GuruTransport Agency needs to assure Kapiti local jobs will come from X’pressway — Councillor Gurunathan

By Alan Tristram

Kapiti Coast District Councillor K Gurunathan says the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) needs to assure Kapiti people that local businesses will benefit from the planed Expressway.

He says: “While I welcome the NZTA’s statement last week that local businesses would have a chance to tender for landscaping and planting for the $630m Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway, NZTA needs to give a clear assurance how this and other business opportunities for job creation will be achieved.

The Transport Agency’s Wellington state highways manager, Rod James, said “prime consideration” would be given and that NZTA needed “to ensure we are running an open, fair and transparent tender process”.  I have three points in response:

Firstly, I especially welcome Mr James’ statement that he has no doubt the expressway project will involve significant participation from local people and businesses, and its flow-on economic benefits to Kapiti will be substantial.

We need the actual opportunities to be spelt out. It’s important that NZTA, local business organisations and business facilitators like Electra and KCDC are able to sit down and work out the opportunities and how to leverage them for local benefits. I have searched and not found any such approach in other RoNs (Roads of National Significance) projects. 

Secondly, in relation to the appeal by struggling local nurseries for a life line, my definition of ‘prime consideration’ is for NZTA to introduce a weighting for local businesses.

Mr James has avoided specifically mentioning this. While it’s good that NZTA wants an open, fair and transparent process, the reality is that it is Kapiti’s environment that is being destroyed.

And its communities will be put through social, health and economic stress during the four-year construction phase.

The expressway may be a Road of National Significance, but the people of Kapiti need to see immediate benefits during the construction process. A weighting for local tenderers will be a concrete step towards that and NZTA must give that assurance and take steps to make that happen.

Thirdly, NZTA needs to clarify that it is really running an open, fair and transparent tender process.

Can Mr James assure the local nurseries competing in the tender process that they will not be disadvantaged by out-of-district companies sourcing their plants from Corrections CIE prisons where the use of cheap prison labour allows them to unfairly undercut commercial growers?

I understand this is a nation-wide problem faced by many commercial nurseries. And will out-of-district contractors bring low-wage migrant workers to do the planting work?








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