Drivers in West Otago continue to take ‘‘stupid’’ risks on flooded roads despite comprehensive warning and safety measures now in place.
During last week’s West Otago Community Board meeting, Clutha district councillor John Herbert raised continuing issues with drivers apparently ignoring or deliberately flouting flood barriers in the Kelso area.
Thanks to lobbying from the board, in 2021 barriers were installed on three key entrances to the ‘‘Kelso triangle’’, a notoriously flood-prone area of about 3sq km.
Since then, the barriers appeared largely to have worked effectively until the combined snow and heavy rain early last week, Cr Herbert said.
On this occasion, several factors had led to some drivers inadvertently entering the flooded area.
‘‘[ Last Tuesday] I came across a guy in a white truck towards Kelso.
‘‘He said the barriers had been unlocked and open, so someone before him has obviously ignored the warnings and gone ahead and done that.
‘‘Make no mistake, opening barriers on a flooded road is a serious issue and could lead to a nasty accident.’’
He said the barriers may initially have been bolted but not locked, which would be investigated by contractors.
In a separate incident, last week, two logging trucks had become stuck behind the barriers after entering the triangle to access forestry, before the gates were shut.
Cr Herbert said the trucks were freed after a short while, but future incidents could be avoided by compiling a list of local contractors and alerting them when the barriers were to be closed.
Prior to the barrier installation, on average two or three vehicles would become stuck in floodwater each year, leading to unnecessary risk for drivers and emergency personnel, Cr Herbert said.
Board chairwoman Barbara Hanna said there remained those who would flout safety measures under any circumstances.
‘‘Some people are just stupid, I’m afraid.’’