A greater number of targets and projects than first expected won’t be achieved by Waka Kotahi as the financial year comes to an end.

Official advice provided to the Ministry of Transport indicated 18 percent of the agency’s projects were off track and unlikely to be completed within the planned timeframe – an increase on the previous quarter where it thought 6 percent of projects were under pressure.  

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A “significant number” of measures that would not be met in line with the Agency’s Statement of Performance Expectations related to the Road to Zero programme. 

This included higher rates of deaths and serious injuries than projected and fewer safety measures rolled out across the country than had been planned.  

“At 2,807, the number of deaths and serious injuries recorded on NZ roads increased 10 percent in the 12-month period ending December 2022, compared with the 12-month period ending September 2022.  

“While [deaths and serious injuries] are lower than the 2018 baseline, they are above the target of 2,418 for the year ending 30 June 2023.” 

The Road to Zero strategy aims for a 40 percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2030. 

Deaths and serious injuries involving vehicles with low safety ratings were higher than the target and “significant incidents” on the road were also happening more frequently than expected. 

Officials also confirmed mobile speed cameras (operated by the police) had only been deployed for 28,445 hours in the past 12 months – the target was 80,000 hours.  

Waka Kotahi set itself the goal of at least 500km of the network with reduced speeds by last June but it only managed to change 165km. Getting the public onboard with speed reductions proved to be more difficult than anticipated. 

It said there were six National Land Transport Programme projects off track at this point, with two unlikely to recover by June 30. 

Four NZ Upgrade Programme projects were also off track, with one unlikely to recover.  

An Upgrade Programme briefing from February shows six projects with an overall health of “red”, the worst indicator, based on how the project was faring with its timeframe and costs.  

These were Papakura to Drury, Otaki to North of Levin, Takitimu North Link Stage One, State Highway 1/29 Intersection Improvements, Rolleston Access Improvements and the Queenstown Package.  

“Waka Kotahi assesses the overall outlook for NZUP as ‘red’, reflecting programme-wide cost pressures and the risk of being unable to deliver the programme within the current funding envelope.” 

State Highway 1/29 Intersection Improvements were supposed to be finalised by the end of 2024 but had already been pushed out until mid-2025. 

“The adverse weather events that occurred during the March 2023 quarter will add further pressure to Waka Kotahi’s performance over the remainder of the 2022/23 financial year (and beyond),” officials said.  

The decline in revenue for the National Land Transport Fund was also described as “concerning”, with expected revenue down nearly $300 million. 

$400m has so-far been drawn down from a $2 billion government loan secured in 2021. 

Sustainable funding was listed as one of four “extreme” risks, with health, safety and wellbeing, failure of critical infrastructure and cyber and information security the others. 

A new Statement of Performance Expectations for the 2023/24 financial year will be finalised by June 30.  

Emma Hatton is a business reporter based in Wellington.

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