Black spot crash re­news call for cover­age

Kaikoura Star - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - EMMA DANGER­FIELD AND MICHAEL HAYWARD

Re­newed calls are be­ing made for cell­phone cover­age along Kaiko¯ura’s In­land Rd fol­low­ing another crash, this time in­volv­ing a van­load of tourists, on Fri­day.

The van, car­ry­ing six tourists, went off a bridge on the Hu­runui’s In­land Kaiko¯ura Rd about 9.45am, plung­ing eight me­tres into a riverbed, in­jur­ing two and re­duc­ing the road to one lane.

Kaiko¯ura Fire Bri­gade chief fire of­fi­cer Ian Walker said the van landed on its roof in the dry riverbed, which would have been full of wa­ter last week.

He said a male and a fe­male were flown to Christchurch Hos­pi­tal with mod­er­ate in­juries, while the other four pas­sen­gers were checked by St John paramedics at the scene.

It was ‘‘pure luck’’ there were no se­ri­ous in­juries, Walker said. The fact that the van landed on its nose first likely pre­vented more se­ri­ous in­jury, he said.

A Christchurch Trans­port Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre spokesman said the road was down to one lane and un­der stop-go con­trol near the in­ter­sec­tion with Cloudy Range Rd for sev­eral hours.

The road is a vi­tal life­line for Kaiko¯ura as it is the only way in and out of the earth­quake-af­fected town­ship dur­ing most week­days.

A pe­ti­tion call­ing for ac­tion from the Gov­ern­ment to ad­dress the lack of phone cover­age has been cir­cu­lat­ing since ear­lier this year, although lo­cal res­i­dents and emer­gency ser­vices have raised con­cerns for far longer.

Be­cause the road is not a des­ig­nated high­way, de­spite of­ten be­ing the only ac­ces­si­ble route in and out of Kaiko¯ura since the earth­quake, it did not qual­ify for the lat­est Gov­ern­ment mo­bile and broad­band in­vest­ment pro­gramme.

Kaiko¯ura is now on the list to ben­e­fit from a ru­ral con­nec­tiv­ity group pro­posal (an ini­tia­tive by Voda­fone, Spark and 2De­grees) which will pro­vide 520 new cell sites, but it could be another five years be­fore the is­sue is re­solved. Up to four tow­ers have been pro­posed to pro­vide new broad­band cover­age to about 140 res­i­dents be­tween Wa­iau and Kaiko¯ura by the end of 2022, but fi­nal cover­age will de­pend on where sites can be se­cured.

Walker said the site of Fri­day’s ac­ci­dent had no cell­phone cover­age and the story could have had a dif­fer­ent out­come had there not been so many work­ers in the area who were able to call for help.

A pe­ti­tion call­ing for more im­me­di­ate ac­tion can be signed at change.org.

PHOTO: PIPPA BROWN/ STUFF

Ben Foster’s sculp­ture fea­tures all the names of all of the dam­aged towns around the Kaik­oura district ex­cept for Rakau­tara.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

A van fell about 8 me­tres in a crash off the Con­way River Bridge in North Can­ter­bury.

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