Angry and frustrated business owners took to the streets of Christchurch’s CBD today in an effort to gain access to resources that have remained trapped behind the cordon since the 22 February quake.
Businessmen and women, the very people who are supposed to be able to lead the Christchurch recovery, are angry that they’ve been unable to go back into their buildings to retrieve assets that are crucial to getting their businesses up and running again.
You can understand the anger of some of them whose buildings weren’t even damaged by the earthquake but are being refused access because there’s a red stickered building in the vicinity.
Some of the braver, or more desperate, had already breached cordons to retrieve what they could comfortably hide in their pockets – including computing components. Whilst another man had previously told media that he was angry his building was demolished before he was given the chance to go in and retrieve an expensive European coffee machine.
A video of the near riot and protest can be seen on the Herald’s website here, including a very angry man complaining that people are having to pay bribes to get in (1:49 into the video)
“not to the police but to others. There’s a whole range of different rules and corruptions going on in that CBD at the moment and the police are embarrassed by it”
Another protester, holding a placard stating “living in fear of civil defence” called for the civil defence emergency to be dropped because “they” are using it for their own gains now and that it was “basically a dictatorship” now.
Come on Christchurch City Council/ Civil Defence/NZ government, allow these desperate people controlled access to their property before they up sticks and relocate across the Tasman. It’s no use rebuilding a city if there’s no-one left to work there.
Update 25 March 2011
Police are investigating complaints about demolition companies stealing from buildings in the CBD, about 30 companies have contracts to work on demolition work in the quake affected areas. Read more here
Update 22 March 2011
This email is currently being passed around the Christchurch business community, it would appear that the actions of Civil Defence are far more deleterious than those of the looters who are plaguing the city (source)
From: Kurt Langer [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, 22 March 2011 1:27 p.m.
To: Kurt Langer
Subject: Serious concerns of many of the people of the CBD and Christchurch City
Please forward this email on to all that you know who can help us make this happen!
The people of Christchurch who own businesses and buildings within the Central area of Christchurch have the following concerns.
1. We have lost faith in the competence and willingness of the Civil Defense and the Earthquake Authorities to be effective caretakers of our property.
• Civil Defense is not adequately protecting property in the central city from looters.
• Civil Defense is demolishing buildings and businesses without consultation and against the declared interests of their owners.
• Civil Defense is destroying property without any due diligence or care about the value of what they are destroying.
• Civil Defense does not even care to consult with owners of property in any meaningful capacity.
• By any meaningful standard, the actions of Civil Defense are far more destructive to Christchurch businesses and business owners than the petty pilfering of looters.
2. We have lost faith in the ability of Civil Defense and the Earthquake Authorities to bring about meaningful recovery in the Christchurch central district.
• If recovery has any meaning at all, it is the recovery of Christchurch businesses.
• The “recovery” to date has been micro-managed, alienating the very individuals whose recovery is essential to restart business in Christchurch.
• There has been no interest in working with the very people of Christchurch whose business it is to run business, rather keeping the attempted recovery within the hands of too few individuals.
• Four weeks after the quake, and very little has been achieved beyond the original rescue effort. No surprise when the people who run Christchurch’s businesses are excluded rather than embraced.
3. We call upon the New Zealand Government to:
• End the State of Emergency on Friday. With rescue and immediate recovery complete, responsibility, risk and stewardship for property should revert to its owners.
• Immediately reinstate personal property rights, guaranteeing property owners the final say in the determination of their property.
Tear down this State of Emergency and let Christchurch businesses begin the job of getting back on their feet.
Now no longer and maybe never accessible:
91 Cashel Mall
M: +64 (0)21 407 506