Traffic chaos around Covid-19 testing station

Nicola Harris shot this image whilst at a standstill. It took her half an hour yesterday to get from Aviemore to Botany.

Commuters are losing patience with the placement of a Covid-19 testing station on Botany Road after experiencing extremely long delays in traffic during the morning school runs and commutes.

Social media posts have been swamped with comments from people stuck in traffic snaking back great distances as cars attempt to circumnavigate their way past the testing station toward Ti Rakau and Te Irirangi drives.   – in a single rather than double lane.

Many suggested the testing site is moved somewhere more suitable with a very popular vote arising for Lloyd Elsmore Park. Highland Park shopping centre – which is down to just a solitary major tenant following its sale – was also suggested.

The congestion has also forced Auckland Transport to order bus diversions southbound on Botany Rd (between Golfland Rd & Kurnell Dr) due to congestion around the Covid-19 testing site.

Meanwhile National MP for Pakuranga Simeon Brown and National Party Candidate for Botany Christopher Luxon have thrown their weight behind the community’s call to shift the testing site.

“High demand for Covid-19 testing has seen east Auckland’s sole testing station overwhelmed in recent days, with queues stretching up to a kilometre down the road and immediate action needs to be taken to ease the pressure,” they said in a joint media statement.

“Demand for the testing station on Botany Road has surged following the news last week that two new cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed and that a close contact of the pair resided in Pakuranga.

“As a result, hundreds of local residents have been following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines and attempting to get tested if they’re exhibiting any of the common symptoms of the virus.

However, the long queues of people waiting to get tested are creating several major problems, the pair said.

“The traffic congestion in the area throughout the day is significant, making it difficult for residents in the area to get around and potentially discouraging people from getting tested.”

“A frustrating side effect is that those wishing to use or visit the Botany Downs Primary Birthing Unit, which shares a car park with the testing station, are unable to get in.”

“This week, we wrote to both the Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB) and the Minister of Health urgently requesting that a second testing station be set up in east Auckland to take pressure off the existing one.”

“The current station cannot be expected to handle an area that 130,000 people call home on its own, so a second must be prioritised to serve our communities.”

They said the accessibility of Covid-19 community testing is absolutely crucial to ensuring success against the virus provided it is not compromised.

“So people queuing for hours to get tested is simply unacceptable,” they said.

“With confidence in the border quarantine process wavering, reliable access to testing is more important than ever. The CMDHB and Ministry of Health need to sort this out before more mistakes are made that put Kiwis at risk.”

Auckland Councillor (Howick) Sharon Stewart has contacted Auckland Transport.

“I am waiting to hear back from AT…this is becoming a major problem for our community,” she said.

The Times was told by the Ministry of Health that the matter was one for the local Counties Manukau District Health Board. A comment has been sought.