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700 public servants move out of quake-prone six-storey office building

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Report from RNZ
Inland Revenue and the Transport Agency are searching for temporary offices for 700 public servants in Palmerston North, after their building was found to be an earthquake risk. The building was closed yesterday following structural investigations, which found it is earthquake prone.

The six-storey building, owned by Acquisition Properties New Zealand Ltd, was constructed around 1980, but the top two floors were added around 2000, according to the Transport Agency.

Inland Revenue (IRD) says it has shifted most of the work normally done by its 220 Palmerston North staff to other offices.

“There is nowhere now for normal face-to-face meetings with our customers so we’re looking for temporary accommodation to resume that service,” an IRD spokesperson said. “We’re also working on how our people could work from home in the coming days.”

The Transport Agency said it had 480 staff in the office.

“Most of our Palmerston North staff are able to work remotely and can work from home. A limited contact centre has opened in a nearby building,” a spokesperson said. “We had already initiated the process of looking for alternative premises in Palmerston North with a view to relocating at the end of our lease.

“We have now brought forward our search for new accommodation. This search will determine whether we move directly to new accommodation or to temporary premises while new offices are identified and fitted-out for our use.”

The Transport Agency said more information about the building would be released once the structural engineer’s report was peer reviewed, and invasive testing had been conducted.

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