Auckland businesses impacted by construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) are demanding financial compensation ahead of the imminent closure of a busy city intersection.
Heart of the City, Auckland's CBD business association, has organised a demonstration on the steps of Auckland Council on Thursday to draw attention to the disruption caused by the $4.4 billion public transport project.
"These people have had enough. Their needs continue to be ignored and they face more disruption ahead," Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said ahead of the demonstration.
"Requests for a decision on financial relief for the remainder of the project have been left unanswered for months and multiple requests for visits to businesses have been ignored.
"If this was a workplace, you would not contemplate leaving people to deal with this level of stress without help. There has been no compassion or respect shown for them and that needs to change. These are hard-working people who just want a fair go."
Beck says Transport Minister Michael Wood was "responsive" back in March to a request for financial support and advised that options were being considered, but "time keeps marching on".
"Despite requests for updates, Heart of the City and impacted businesses are none the wiser as to what is happening and with no timeframe for a decision, time is running out for many businesses in the area.
"The major Albert Street/Victoria Street intersection closure, which is happening at the end of the month for a period of two years, will bring more significant impact to the area."
Wood says Heart of the City wants $50 million in compensation to local businesses. He was unable to attend the demonstration due to commitments outside of Auckland.
"The work is ongoing and I've been in discussion with officials, ministerial colleagues, CRLL [City Rail Link Limited] and Auckland Council on these issues," Wood told Newshub.
"The previous Government did not create a process or budget for business compensation when the project was first set up, so given this and the scale of the request, we are carefully working through it."
In a letter to Heart of the City obtained by Newshub, Wood says while he couldn't "predetermine" the outcome of compensation considerations, he will contact Heart of the City "as soon as I can provide a clear response".
"In discussion with CRLL I have impressed upon them the importance of working with the local community as closely as possible, and they have reaffirmed their commitment to a range of non-financial measures to mitigate the impact.
"I would also encourage you to make representations to the landlords of the tenants who you represent. They will be significant beneficiaries of the massive public investment going into the CRLL and in my view it is reasonable that they also consider appropriately supporting their tenants through the process."
Last month a 130-metre long tunnel boring machine, dubbed Dame Whina Cooper, started its journey below Auckland's skyline to excavate the CRL tunnels. It will be New Zealand's first underground railway.
The CRL demonstration falls on the same day the Public Transport Users Association is holding a public meeting in Mt Eden to discuss concerns about the Government's light rail plans.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged during the 2017 election campaign that Labour would build light rail from downtown Auckland to the airport within a decade.
Labour had already promised to build light rail from Auckland CBD to Mt Roskill and Ardern said at the time it would be complete in four years, but more three years passed and light rail was nowhere to be seen.
Information released by Waka Kotahi-NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) last month showed $34.8 million had been spent since October 2017 on business cases, project management, legal costs, office space and equipment, and Ministry of Transport funding, for light rail.
And despite those tens of millions of dollars going into the project, Labour announced in March plans to start from scratch, with a new six-month consultation process launched by Wood.