MP Maureen Pugh is calling for urgent action to permanently repair the Omoto Slip, on SH7 near Greymouth.
The National List MP based in West Coast – Tasman is calling time on the month-old landslide which, despite some temporary road access, means a long commute to town for Dobson and Kaiata residents. Following health and safety concerns about the temporary road way, school buses have continued to take the longer route through Stillwater.
“The disruption to road and rail freight services and now, several weeks in, the flow-on decline in business from the lack of through traffic is a big worry across the community” she says. Since the weekend she has been in touch with the Regional Council, the Grey District Mayor and Westland Milk Products.
Two weeks ago Mrs Pugh wrote four letters of concern about the severance to decision-makers – the first to KiwiRail has assured her of the seriousness of the landslide and given an offer to meet with local management. The second to Transport Minister Phil Twyford has been put in front of the Minister for his reply and the third to Winston Peters seeking clarification on Provincial Growth Fund support of KiwiRail remains unanswered. A fourth letter went to NZTA. “I am considering meeting with KiwiRail management in Wellington and also asking questions in The House because there has to be a permanent solution. Twenty years ago the huge rockslides were conquered for the building of the Otira-Arthur’s Pass Viaduct and historically the right equipment was deployed at a previous Omoto slip for as long as it took to completely clear the debris away.
Maureen Pugh is particularly concerned for the disruption of the TranzAlpine train. “Here we are at the start of the summer season for our world-renowned tourist train, and passengers are being transferred to buses to and from Arthur’s Pass – already the passenger numbers are trending downwards as travel agents are being put off by the news of an incomplete trip.
When you cut a transport arterial route for more than a few days, the whole community will suffer. “The Coast deserves a permanent road and rail solution – now.”