Brett Gliddon, General Manager Transport Services, New Zealand Transport Agency - regarding State Highway services only
Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that the COVID-19 alert has been raised to level three and will become Level 4 from 23:59 hours on Wednesday 25 March 2020. This imposes the cessation of any non-essential services for a period for 4 weeks.
We know that there will be significant implications and questions, we are working as hard as we can to understand all of the ramifications and how we manage these, but we don’t have all the answers yet.
It’s important now that as an industry we are considered in the way we respond and that we don’t make rushed or bad decisions. We have a collective responsibility to show leadership.
This is a rapidly changing environment, but this is what we know so far:
Maintenance and Operations
- These activities are essential services and therefore maintenance remains an essential function. We will continue with cyclic maintenance and emergency works.
- Where summer renewals and reseal programmes are still in completion, we expect any work already in progress to be completed.
- In cases where that work is yet to start, contractors need to contact us to discuss prioritisation. We are prioritising the continuation of critical maintenance activities first.
- Professional services will be seen as essential services where they are supporting maintenance activities and they must continue.
- In accordance with the Government guidance, capital works are not seen as an essential service and must be stood down for four weeks.
- With immediate effect, Capital Projects must manage the cessation of work to be in effect by the deadline tomorrow. Capital projects should approach this in the same way they treat a ‘Christmas closedown’.
- Services to maintain the site and to ensure it’s safe can continue as essential services, this includes things like traffic management and environmental controls. We will continue to manage and monitor environmental risks and traffic management plans to protect and ensure safety for the travelling public. It is crucial that we preserve the integrity of the asset and render worksites safe.
- We recognise that this has consequences on the timing and costs for delivery on the project under the respective contracts. We expect formal notification of these impacts in accordance with contract terms.
- Our objective is to get through the four-week period in a strong as possible position as we can, so we are well placed at the end of the four weeks for maximum momentum.
Professional Services Non-essential
- It is also crucial that we ensure a continued pipeline of activity in preparation for returning to full construction.
- This is to enable immediate economic stimulus through construction-ready projects and the industry’s ability to respond.
- That is why professional services should be continued wherever possible.
- Where professional services are being provided to existing Capital Projects currently under construction, i.e. MSQA, we would expect these staff to be redeployed elsewhere within the business or their work undertaken remotely.
- If professional services work is being carried out on business cases or pre-implementation, our expectation is that this will continue remotely and those contracts will remain active.
Protecting New Zealand
- It is vital that as an industry we do our part to protect our people. This is more important than financial priorities. While this is incredibly disruptive, we have a responsibility to play our part to help remove the virus from NZ.
- We are already working with government and ministers on potential stimulus packages - however they will only be valuable to us if we have a strong industry and workforce at the end of this.
- Infrastructure will play a critical role in the economic recovery of New Zealand.
- It is important that we continue to work closely together to ensure we are ready to respond when the time comes. This means we need to take a ‘best for New Zealand’ approach to continue planning for key projects and that we use the workforce and resources in the most effective and efficient manner.
If you are a head contractor and have questions regarding work on the State Highway network, please contact the NZTA National Emergency Response Team. If you are a subcontractor working on these projects, please raise them with your head contractor.