Drivers ignore barriers after stretch of road collapses

Contractors work on a temporary fix for the burst sewage pipes yesterday morning.  Photos by...
Contractors work on a temporary fix for the burst sewage pipes yesterday morning. Photos by Rebecca Ryan.
A significant amount of Kakanui's Beach Rd collapsed on Saturday afternoon, taking with it sewage...
A significant amount of Kakanui's Beach Rd collapsed on Saturday afternoon, taking with it sewage and water pipes.

''Muppet'' drivers who ignored the ''road closed'' barriers where part of a cliff-top Kakanui road collapsed on Saturday afternoon put themselves and others in danger, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Part of Kakanui's Beach Rd was closed just after midday on Saturday, with diversions in place, after part of the cliff collapsed, taking with it a chunk of the road and sewage and water pipes.

No-one was on the section of road at the time and there have been no injuries.

On Saturday night, three sets of barriers and gates isolating the area were moved and it appears the crumbling stretch of road was driven on.

''They endangered themselves and others with their actions and very possibly caused further damage to the road,'' Mr Kircher said.

''It's something we absolutely didn't need.''

Stabilisation of the road was a ''real issue'' as the road continued to give way on Saturday night.

The cause of the slip, about 200m north of Coast Cafe, was yet to be determined.

The location of a culvert at the site, heavy seas and recent rain could have contributed, he said.

With good rock shelving, the area had not been identified as a problem, Mr Kircher said.

''It's not an area where we expected we were going to have problems.''

The main sewer line, carrying all of the sewage from Kakanui to the treatment pond, burst in the collapse, releasing sewage into the sea.

Contractors were working on a temporary fix yesterday.

''The short-term solution will be to keep sewage in the holding pond on the Kakanui side of the pipeline and that will need to be pumped out regularly and trucked away for treatment,'' Mr Kircher said.

''Because some raw sewage has gone into the sea there, I would highly recommend that a temporary moratorium be put in the taking of all shellfish in the immediate area until further notice.''

The water pipe that had broken, which supplied one farmer at the end of the line, would be temporarily fixed today.

The road is now closed, with diversions in place, until engineers can assess whether one lane can be opened.

Closure of the road would be a ''major inconvenience'' for people travelling between Oamaru and Kakanui, Mr Kircher said.

Kakanui's Coast Cafe owners Richard and Mandy Collins were feeling ''fairly unlucky'' to be involved in another natural disaster.

Mr and Mrs Collins moved to Oamaru three years ago after their Fishmongers gourmet fish and chip shop and the flat they lived in above the business were destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake of September 2010.

''[Coast Cafe] has just been getting busier and busier and it has become very successful - obviously anything that could potentially compromise that is of concern to me,'' Mr Collins said.

''It's disappointing. I didn't need another natural disaster in my life, but there's plenty of other people who will be affected in different ways.''

The slip would ''definitely'' have a short-term effect on Coast Cafe's business, he said, but for now, he was not ''engaging in emotion-based reactions'' and the cafe remained open.

''There's no point in worrying about what might happen, because there's plenty of room on the other side of the road to put more roading in place,'' he said.

''At the moment there's an issue there and the way that's going to be addressed moving forward will be unveiled as professionals look at it.''

-rebecca.ryan@odt.co.nz

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