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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Christchurch CBD businesses to be boarded up

Christchurch CBD businesses to be boarded up

KEITH LYNCH AND NZPA
Last updated 19:36 23/03/2011


Civil Defence plans to create "safe corridors" to buildings within Christchurch's quake-ravaged central business district.

The corridors were still in the planning stage and the specific routes would be revealed later this week, controller Steve Brazier told a media briefing today.

"It will ease congestion which is pretty terrible," he said.

Controlled access to some of the red zone via the corridors would start from Monday, he said.

Civil Defence teams are also to board up city centre properties in a bid to reassure Christchurch business owners who have still not been able to access their premises more than a month after the quake.

Some businesses were badly damaged in the quake, their windows and doors smashed, exposing stock.

At today's briefing, Civil Defence national controller Steve Brazier said, ''We're going to have a group go around the CBD and insure where doors have not been closed... and most of them have... we're going to put plywood or heavy plastic there to seal them up as best we can.''

Brazier said most doors were shut, but some were damaged and needed to be sealed.

The process could begin over the next ''couple of days'', he said.

Authorities have also clamped down on Christchurch demolition companies salvaging valuables from buildings set to be knocked down.

After the September quake, demolition firms helped themselves to valuables in buildings marked for destruction, Christchurch business owner Chris Meyer said.

Mr Meyer owned a coffee house inside the Manchester Courts building, a heritage building demolished after September's magnitude 7.1 quake.

Companies stripping valuables from red-stickered premises was a widespread problem, he said.

Brazier also urged all business owners within the four avenues to register immediately on www.recovercanterbury.co.nz

The media also heard 23 demolition companies have also been accredited to give Civil Defence more ''control'' over the process.

Business owners were allowed into Sydenham today and others would be allowed access to parts of Cambridge Terrace today (Thursday), Zone, and Zone 4 north near Hagley Park on Friday.

Only five per cent of residents in the city were still without water, and the boil water notice remained in place.

At the briefing, Police superintendent Alan McGregor said some residents had raised concerns about people speeding in some damaged areas.

He urged motorists to keep to the limits as they could lose control of their cars, on roads badly hit by the quake.
He also told people not to breach the city centre cordons.

McGregor also said police have not seen an increase in crime. ''The reported crime is below our average,'' he said.

Brazier also said about 360,000 tonnes of silt have now been removed from the city. ''The amount of liquefaction this time is probably around 10 to 15 times more [than the September 4 quake],'' he said.
More silt would have to be removed.

''You can still see on the streets and it'll be washed down as it rains. So there's a bit more to do but we have most of it.''

ANGRY BUSINESS OWNERS

Mr Meyer was not allowed in to get his property himself and had to pay the company $700 to get some of it back, including a couple of leather couches, two tables, some chairs and an Eftpos system.

He was angry at the lack of communication and lack of access and said he knew of plenty of business owners going through the same thing.

"A couple of days before the demolition began, I was driving past and saw a truck outside my cafe loading all my furniture.

"I was all for the building coming down after I saw the damage, but all I ever asked for was half an hour to go in and get my stuff.

"I saw with my own eyes people going into the building with hard hats and high visibility vests who were not council or Earthquake Commission staff."

Mr Meyer said if they could let those people in, they could have let him in also.

A Civil Defence spokesman said contracts often allowed salvage rights to the demolition companies, but Civil Defence had put in a clause to stop that happening since the February 22 quake.

"Any demolition we are organising will have that clause - but if a demolition occurred before the February earthquake, then it would depend on the individual contract."

The Christchurch City Council website states: "Demolition contractors undertaking commercial or red zone demolitions are not allowed to salvage materials. Where possible, goods of value, such as business equipment, will be returned to the owner or tenant." 

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