Wellington Scoop

Wanted: 450 road builders

The Wainui saddle – part of the route of Transmission Gully. NZTA photo.

Not only are there hundreds of job vacancies on the $850 million Tranmission Gully project. There have also been difficulties in retaining some workers.

Paul McBeth of BusinessDesk has revealed reports obtained via the Official Information Act that show the Transmission Gully project …

… has struggled with a high turnover of workers – the rolling average was 20 percent in January, unchanged from December … 21 percent in November and 22 percent in October … That compares to the 2015 average turnover across all industries of 12.6 percent … at a time when the volume of activity in the construction sector has seen labour costs increase as firms vie more aggressively for skilled and unskilled employees

…Among initiatives to take on new staff, the construction joint venture between CPB Contractors and HEB Construction had plans to run a two-week boot camp for unemployed youth in February and hire at least 15 people, received funding from Te Puni Kokiri for five Maori cadetships in 2017, interviewed 30 potential candidates from local iwi Ngati Toa, and talked to the Defence Force to look at Transmission Gully as an option for work once people left the military.

Staff turnover isn’t the only problem. The BusinessDesk report reveals that the motorway builders are planning to take on 450 extra workers because the project is bigger than they expected – more earthworks are needed than they initially anticipated.

The focus on the workforce comes as Transmission Gully prepares for a larger earthworks programme than initially scoped. The project has consent for 6.5 million cubic metres of earthworks, which covers the main alignment work. However the joint venture found work to dispose of “unsuitable material, ground improvements, environmental controls, topsoils stripping and stockpiling ”didn’t appear to be “sufficiently allowed for in the consents”, according to its January monthly progress report.

In January, CPB and HEB tasked their consenting team with focussing on acquiring a single permit that “gives flexibility and a buffer to give certainty and efficiency for earthworks production”, and after a series of workshops with the joint venture, NZTA and councils, the construction partners had “reasonable confidence for a non-notified consent application which increases certainty around approval timeframes”.

It was more than two years ago that VIPs led by John Key officially launched construction of the new 27km motorway. Dame Patsy Reddy (who was then deputy chair of the Transport Agency) said the project had been talked about since 1919, and “it is with great excitement that we look forward to another historic day in 2020 when we can take our first journeys on Transmission Gully.” She promised “cutting edge construction techniques, state of the art safety technology and the latest innovations in environmental mitigation.”

Though two years ago she wouldn’t have known that 450 extra workers would be needed to cope with much greater earthworks than expected, she predicted that the project would offer “fantastic new career opportunities for job seekers ranging from manual workers to managers and highly skilled specialists.”

New career opportunities, no doubt. But will 450 extra employees mean that the $850million budget will need to be reviewed?



  1. TrevorH, 23. April 2017, 17:02

    Just get on with it, whatever it takes.

  2. Mike, 24. April 2017, 7:20

    Why Trevor?
    It’s one of many non-affordable and unneeded projects.

  3. Elaine Hampton, 24. April 2017, 19:43

    ‘Because the project is bigger than expected’! Again, how many times have we heard this. Pick a figure, get started and then find the basics aren’t covered, (seems to be a deliberate ploy). And again, this for a project that will raise more problems than it is supposed to answer. More cars, more pollution, less sense. What ever it takes, – not out of my rates and taxes I hope.