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Cogs turn on major projects

The site of the proposed Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme reservoir. PHOTO/FILE
Optimism growing for big projects
ARTHUR HAWKES
Under Alert Level 3, the cogs will turn again on Wairarapa projects previously granted PGF dollars.
The largest infrastructure project with PGF funding in the region is the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme.
Wairarapa Water Limited was granted $7 million towards the development of its water storage pre-construction phase in January.
WWL chief executive Robyn Wells said the water storage project luckily got key work completed just before the lockdown measures were put in place.
“The Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme is gaining good traction in the community, and we are well positioned to be a water storage infrastructural project with great benefit,”
Wells said.
“The lockdown hasn’t adversely impacted progress of the project.
“We were fortunate, heading into the lockdown, that many important in-field tasks had been completed that initiated a programme of office-based work which we have been able to continue on with remotely.”
In addition, the PGF also funded $110,000 for the development of a Water Resilience Strategy, being progressed by the Wairarapa Economic Development governance group and key stakeholders.
Minister of Economic Regional Development Shane Jones was keen to emphasise the importance of getting these projects moving again.
“Finalising these Provincial Growth Fund loans and getting this much-needed capital into the regions over the next few months will aid longer-term economic stability and create sustainable jobs in the regions,” Jones said.
“They are proof of the commitment we have to supporting our regions, and the confidence we have that they will recover economically from what has been a devastating blow for some regions and sectors.”
Jones said that “our regions will play a vital role in the recovery of the national economy, so it is crucial we get people back to work safely as soon as possible, and for PGF projects to continue to be rolled out”
While the renewed government focus on PGF projects will have these large regional endeavours open up again, the changes at Level 3 also means that privately-funded construction projects are back on track, as is the construction workforce necessary to build them.
Former Masterton mayor Bob Francis chairs the Five Rivers medical facility project, which is set to start up again soon, with talk of a start date as early as next month.
“With covid-19 there have been some delays, but we’re still pushing on,” Francis said.
“We don’t have a start date, but it will hopefully be some time in May.
“We’re really advanced with the consent process with South Wairarapa District Council, so we’re not far away from having those issued.
Francis felt very optimistic about the region’s path out of lockdown.
“I think everyone’s feeling pretty good today.
“I still think we’ve got a bit of work to do, but there’s some really positive stuff going on.
“Just observing the traffic, there are a lot of trucks and vans on the road today, which is all so positive.”

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