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The Government has welcomed news that milk tankers and other essential freight will be given priority access in and out of Kaikoura on the inland road (route 70) from next week.

The NZ Transport Agency established a schedule of controlled access this week after control of the road was formally transferred to the Transport Agency by the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group.

Weather depending, the first trip by full milk tankers will take place next Monday.

“While the inland road between Kaikoura and Mt Lyford is still a very fragile and hazardous route, crews have been working hard to clear the road of more than 50 slips to get it to a state where it can now be used safely, with vehicles travelling in supervised convoys,” Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

“From the day of the earthquake our key priority has been re-establishing access to Kaikoura. We remain committed to re-connecting these communities and getting the region back on its feet – this is another step in that process,” Mr Bridges says.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the continuing progress to secure the inland route and open up access was especially important for the region’s farmers.

“The Transport Agency has been working closely with primary industries including Fonterra to make sure that vehicles such as milk tankers are able to get into Kaikoura to collect milk from farms along the route and bring it out to market.

“The NZTA is rightly treating these trips as an essential service for Kaikoura, providing access in what is a restricted environment, which is great news for everyone in the region.

“This has been a difficult time for farmers who have had to discharge milk onto their land in a controlled way. I want to thank them for their patience.”

Mr Bridges says work is also continuing at pace to clear slips on State Highway 1 south of Kaikoura.

“We are making much better progress than expected at this point in the recovery and as a result it is anticipated the road will be opened much sooner,” Mr Bridges says.

“The Transport Agency is aiming to restore controlled, single lane access for residents and essential services on the road by mid-December, dependent on weather and any further earthquakes,” Mr Bridges says.

Details of the daily travel schedule for the inland road (route 70) and information on how to register are available here:  https://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic-and-travel-information/travel-information-for-canterbury-and-marlborough-regions/

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