LeaderBrand is calling for a renewed focus on Gisborne’s infrastructure as severe weather continues to impact the region
The frequency of severe weather events in the Gisborne region and the impact this has on the security of the region’s arterial roads is being called out by our CEO Richard Burke.
Last week, Gisborne was cut off from the rest of the country until state highway two was reopened late in the day. Disruptions to logistics impacted our ability to supply the rest of the country with spinach, bagged salads, lettuce and broccoli.
“We have a level of frustration about the infrastructure in the region. We’ve had this ongoing problem for the last four years and we can’t understand why something can’t be done about it,” he says.
“Locally, we’ve been trying to get some attention on the Waikare Gorge because it has 29 high risk areas which can potentially close the road. Frankly, we’ve done a whole lot of reports and studies which has told us what we already know, that the road needs improving.”
Gisborne is a major agricultural area that is helping to feed the rest of the country with fresh produce every day. LeaderBrand has invested in the region building a state-of-the-art salad house, distribution centre and currently building the largest undercover greenhouse in the country.
“We are supporting the region with an industry that creates jobs and helps to feed the rest of the country. If we want the rural regions to continue to become part of the national economy on a daily basis, then we need the government to support us by reviewing the roads so that we don’t get closed off from the rest of the country every time we have a weather event.
“Gisborne is a great region to grow, it has a great the climate and we’ve learnt to build great drainage on the flats to negate flooding. It’s incredibly frustrating when we are all working hard every day producing good food for it to be dumped because the main road out of town is closed due to another deluge.
“This type of weather is not going to change, in fact its something that we have to continue to deal with in the future. We really need both local and central government to review the region’s arterial roads,” he says.
The main problem to qualify for updated roading is that the criteria for improvements is made on the basis of the number of cars traveling on the roads.
“The Gisborne region does not qualify, so all the money for roads continues to go to the bigger cities however, you have to start to wonder why the investment has gone into the rural regions if we’re not prepared to look at improving the infrastructure to ensure road closures don’t continue.”
Richard says that the rain has hit at a critical time when we are currently trying to finish our summer harvesting and start planting our winter produce.