The Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency is under fire from former associate transport minister and current Greens transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter over the slow progress with the Road to Zero road safety initiative.
Launched in 2019, the Road to Zero campaign aimed to lower the local road toll 40 per cent by 2030, via a variety of incentives. These include improving local roading infrastructure with more median and side barriers, lowering speed limits, enhancing roadside drug testing, and more.
“It’s a shocking failure to deliver on agreed priorities and the chief executive should be held accountable,” Genter said, as reported by RNZ.
“There’s an attitude of contempt among some of the leadership in some of these organisations. [The NZTA] have a demonstrated track record of ignoring the input from the public and from elected representatives.
“They seem to have their own agenda […] and don’t have a lot of respect for what the public would like to be done with that money.
“In the first year or two, it’s plausible to say that they have to build up capacity, they have to improve the consenting, they haven’t got enough money. But four years later … it’s pretty clear now that they’re not reprioritising the funding.”
Genter’s comments follow a progress report issued by the Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency in July.
In it, the organisation acknowledged that motorists are twice as likely to not be breath tested for alcohol in 2021 as they were in 2013, while also noting that it’s only conducted speed management work on 120km worth of roads since Road to Zero began; well short of the 3500km it claimed it would do by 2024.
In addition, the report also indicated that just 37km of median barriers has been installed, a fraction of the 300km of median barriers pledged for construction by 2024. It’s also only erected 169km of side barriers, and has yet to provide safety treatments on any high-risk intersections.
Transport Minister Wood has defended the lack of action, referencing that Covid-19 has delayed many of the planned incentives. He said that $3billion is being injected into the Road to Zero campaign over the next three years.
The NZTA has also responded to Genter’s comments. In a statement to RNZ, NZTA chief executive Nicole Rosie said that Road to Zero is “one of my highest priorities” and “our resolve to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads is unwavering.”
“The leadership, governance and reporting for Road to Zero have all been significantly strengthened over the past 12 months,” she added.