New figures show not many Northlanders are prepared to officially complain about potholes.
Potholes are the bane of Northlanders’ lives, causing damage to vehicles, piling on costs and creating huge inconveniences.
But for all the protests about problem potholes in the region, new figures show there are not
many motorists prepared to do something about it and take their complaints to roading officials which has surprised a Northland road safety worker, who is urging motorists to officially report their pothole concerns
Complaints from Northlanders to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency about vehicle damage caused by potholes have totalled less than 40 over the last couple of years.
RoadSafe Northland road safety co-ordinator Ashley Johnston said the figures “were quite low considering the state of our roads.
“It’s a bit surprising because every second conversation you have with someone is about the state of the roads.
“The more information sharing and people saying ‘hey this isn’t good enough’, you’d like to think that’d prompt the government to provide more resources and not let Northland be forgotten about.”
Johnston said the recent cyclones Hale and Gabrielle and other severe weather events are “an opportunity for the government to create a more resilient roading network.
“The more conversations and spotlight we can put on how bad our roads are especially at the moment the better; they are particularly bad now.”
Data provided to the Northern Advocate under the Official Information Act shows Waka Kotahi received 16 complaints from Northanders regarding potholes or road surfaces in 2021.
In 2022, 21 complaints were made about potholes or road surfaces.
Northland Potholes Facebook group founder John Baird said he wasn’t surprised with the figures.
He doubted many people “actually called potholes in.
“I called the NZTA about some bad potholes on SH10 as I’d driven from Kaitaia to Kerikeri, and said has anyone else called, and no one else had called them.
“It was a pervading impression it was a waste of time complaining. They divert you straight to their roading contractor when you phone up, and if you write in they send you a standard form letter referring you to their contractor.
“It’s passing the buck.”
Baird, who started the group so motorists can share the locations of hazardous potholes to improve road safety, said Northlanders shouldn’t assume others have already reported a pothole.
“It would be great to encourage people to report potholes more and also complain if they get damage to their cars.
“A lot of people do get damage, we know that. Don’t be fobbed off…at end of the day the government department has to have accountability.”
Since the Northern Advocate began highlighting the pothole issue that’s rampant across the region, many have shared their stories about damage caused to their cars including busted tyres and rim damage, and having to get more frequent wheel alignments.
Northland road policing manager Haydn Korach said motorists should report them to Waka Kotahi, as police do.
He urged motorists to “slow down” and take extra caution as the roads across the North Island had been hammered by Cyclone Gabrielle.
“Be aware the cyclone has caused damage across all of the roading network…and the resourcing of our contractors are stretched.
“The roads aren’t in the best condition and they should drive accordingly.
“We need to be aware there is some damage and everyone needs to slow it down a bit and use some common sense.”
A Waka Kotahi spokesperson said drivers should have insurance for their vehicles in the event of any damage that occurs on the road.
“Your insurer should be your first point of contact if your vehicle is damaged.
“If appropriate, your insurer would then get in touch with Waka Kotahi.
“Alternatively, motorists can complete the Request for compensation for vehicle damage form if they’d like Waka Kotahi and the relevant road maintenance contractor to investigate the matter directly.”