Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Safety barrier finally in after nine years of fear

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Ajay Walia resident of 90 Pakuranga Rd is relieved that a safety barrier has been put outside his home, with the help of Cr Sharon Stewart. Times photo Farida Master.

Ajay Walia can finally have a good night’s sleep after nine years of living in constant fear that someone may crash into their house at 90 Pakuranga Road.

Ajay, a taxi driver, is relieved that his prayers have been answered. It took all this time for a 24m temporary water-filled safety barrier to be installed outside his home –to act as a deterrent to speedsters turning at the lights at the crossroads of Ti Rakau Dr and Pakuranga Rd.

The Times (March 21) wrote about Ajay’s fence being constantly smashed into by drivers crashing into his property just inches away from his home.

In the last decade there have been around 30 incidents and a desperate Ajay and his wife have made several complaints to Auckland Council (with complaint numbers carefully recorded), police and to members of the Howick Local Board.

Even pedestrians walking the footpath outside his home have had near-death experiences.

While Ajay’s wife has been extremely anxious every time she hears a screech of tyres outside their home, Ajay, has campaigned tirelessly for a steel safety barrier to safeguard their family and lives of people walking on the sidewalk of the busy Pakuranga Rd.

It was only when one of his clients suggested that he contact Councillor Sharon Stewart that Ajay connected with her.

On visiting Ajay’s home and seeing their plight, Sharon contacted Shane Ellison, CEO Auckland Transport, to share her concerns. Soon a safety officer visited the site to assess the situation and suggested that a safety barrier be installed from surplus budget the Howick Local Board has.

Embarrassed that nothing had been done about it for so long, Sharon also contacted the Times to highlight the fact that some immediate action was needed to help the family.

Ajay told the Times that his battered fence has been fixed 11 times by the insurance company. Now he can’t put in any more claims.

To make matters worse, on January 24, 2018, within an hour of the fence being fixed by the insurance company it was hit again by another driver. “Someone may just die,” he said.

When the Times contacted David Collings, chair of the Howick Local Board and asked why the matter hadn’t been discussed despite it being on the agenda; Mr Collings said there were too many other things on the agenda to discuss.

“We need to discuss it as a board but haven’t got down to it. We have got a suggestion from Auckland Transport to put up a safety barrier that would cost around $50,000 but there is a formal structure we have to follow.  It’s unfortunate but it’s something we have to do,” he said.

Finally, after around a month, it was not the Howick Local Board but AMETI that found a solution to the problem. Three days ago a solid safety barrier has finally been installed.

Ajay is now quite relieved and can’t stop thanking Cr Stewart for her help.

“We couldn’t have done it without her and the Times that highlighted the story, asked questions and got things moving. I’m truly grateful for that,” he says.


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