Te Uku locals question NZTA road safety upgrades effectiveness

Te Uku locals are questioning the benefits of New Zealand Transport Agency safety upgrades after another accident outside the Waitomo petrol pumps.

Witness to the accident’s aftermath Rata Miller says while nobody was hurt, it was only luck and timing that prevented serious injury which saw one of the vehicles end up outside Te Uku Roast Office.

“People are often hanging outside, and coming and going to their cars so it was lucky no-one was caught up in the accident.”

The accident, which involved four vehicles, happened when a motorist heading to Hamilton pulled out from the Waitomo pumps and clipped another vehicle heading in the same direction.

The clipped vehicle then spun around damaging a couple of trucks – one which was parked outside Te Uku Roast Office.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of people and they reckon if it wasn’t for the truck parked outside the car would have ended up in the cafe,” Rata says.

Locals have been campaigning for several years to improve road safety conditions and a 1000-signature strong petition was delivered to the Hamilton NZTA office by Waikato District councillor Lisa Thomson at the end of last year.

Rata says several factors impact on the safety of the stretch of highway, including speed, blind spots along the road, cars pulling in and out for petrol and coffee, and school runs to and from Te Uku School.

“It’s just going to get worse with the volume of traffic increasing in Raglan.”

A NZTA spokesperson says a post-budget announcement is expected from the agency in the next couple of weeks. They are also undertaking a review of speed limits in the Waikato and will be engaging with communities once the review process is completed.

But Rata says the comment from NZTA is the same thing Te Uku community has been hearing for the past three years from the organisation charged with reducing the risk of deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s road.

“I know of five accidents in Te Uku alone in the last 12 months. I’m frustrated with them (NZTA) because at some level they have to take the blame.”

The lack of response by NZTA is nothing new, Rata says, he tried to engage NZTA on Twitter about an recent incident in Te Uku and was requested to message them directly. He still hasn’t heard from them.

Every time there is another incident at Te Uku locals dread what they will find when they go to help.

“You think this is the day when I’m going to pick up body parts,” Rata says.

Janine Jackson