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Truckers ignore closure

POLICE will be brought in to stop unidentified logging trucks from defying a road closure and carrying cut logs under the cover of darkness.

The Gisborne District Council issued a road closure notice and erected “road closed” signs on Motu Road last week, after traffic during a 30-truck-a-day logging operation from Opotiki damaged the road.

Tairawhiti Roads general manager Dave Hadfield yesterday told The Gisborne Herald the road remained closed because it was in an unsafe condition for both motorists and cyclists.

“Motu Road is still closed and will not be reopened until Monday. While the road has been closed, some transport companies have been using the road at night to extract cut logs, causing more damage to the road.”

Mr Hadfield said council contractors had reported finding “road closed” signs pushed over when they arrived on site in the mornings.

“We have contacted the local transport operators and the police about enforcing the road closure.

“There are landowners who require access to homes (Downers have towed one vehicle out of a rut) and Opotiki District Council would like to reopen the Motu Cycleway.”

Mr Hadfield pointed out that the cost to repair damage already caused was anticipated to be about $55,000.

“We believe we were getting 30 trucks a day prior to the closure.”

Waipaoa ward councillor and GDC infrastructure committee chairman Graeme Thomson said the issue had been raised with him by landowners and he was “seriously concerned.”

“If the roads are officially closed and people are going through them, then we should refer them to the police if they are breaking the law.”

Cr Thomson pointed out that Gisborne-based forestry companies had to pay a roading differential five times that of other ratepayers and this meant local users were subsidising out-of-town operations.

“It’s going to cost Gisborne ratepayers a lot of money and it’s actually getting damaged by activity that occurs in the Bay of Plenty.

“Certainly we have to do something about it, especially when people are not paying any cost to use our roads.”

Landowners in the area were “not happy.”

“That road is the life link of the rural industry to Motu and they need it.”

The Motu Road was an “icon” of a road and linked the area to the popular Motu Trails cycle trail.

People who planted forests 25 years ago should have thought more closely about how they were going to harvest the trees, he said.

Logging truck on Gladstone Rd Bridge. File picture