Sunday, 18 May 2014

Cone City

There are roadworks and roadworks. Here in Christchurch cones on the roads are everywhere. I went into a cafe this morning and there was a little girl playing with a toy cone. Cones, cones, cones and cones.

A massive effort is going into the repair of the "horizontal infrastructure". It's
not just the roads, which are lumps and bumps, it is all the comunications, the electricity, the water and the rest. To be fair much of this has already been done, and wherever we have stayed services work well. But the cones and the earthmoving equipment they isolate from the traffic, change by the day, they even change by the hour. It makes travelling round the city hard work. Residents complain, but coming from the UK, traffic seems to flow remarkably well except at the very busiest times.

I guess that must be partly because the centre of the city is all but empty. I have seen no statistics but some of the population must have drifted away. There are proposals to encourage more workers to come but then there is the problem of where to house them. Single rooms can cost NZ$150 per week. Landlords are doing well. I have heard that some are buying uninsurable houses (earthquake damaged ones) at knock down prices and then take advantage of the booming rental market.

We have now met three people felt sure they were going to die as the ground shook, as the walls swayed and as appliances were ripped from their housings. An oven thrown across the kitchen is no joke. Victims find it hard to experience any rumbling, perhaps a heavy truck passing, without a twinge of anxiety that it is all starting again. We met a lady who has moved away. She does not regret her departure for a moment. And the little quakes continue. There was a 4 level tremor felt in the city just yesterday.

Meanwhile, in the Northern hemisphere the Dow plods on upward, making yet another new high. The pace of growth has slowed. But the push upwards continues. A friend reports a continuing upward pattern. 

He could be right and certainly the FTSE is looking very strong. The UK seems to be one of the strongest recovering economies and its new Central bank governor is settling in well.

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