Black spot crash renews call for coverage
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.
Ben Foster’s sculpture features all the names of all of the damaged towns around the Kaikoura district except for Rakautara.
A van fell about 8 metres in a crash off the Conway River Bridge in North Canterbury.