Road workers, public respond to divisive cone flipping video

Chris Marriner, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 4:57PM

Road workers, public respond to divisive cone flipping video

Chris Marriner, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 4:57PM

In the wake of the controversy over two Kiwi roadworkers' efforts to kill time on the job by flipping cones, the Herald has been contacted by the men and women who work everyday to build and maintain our roads.

The clip, filmed near Waihī, shows two road workers engaged in a game of flipping road cones through the air to try and land them on the base.

The man who filmed the clip wasn't impressed, not by their failed attempts to land the throws, but by what he saw as their lacklustre work ethic.

"This is what our tax money pays for, it pays for these guys to chuck cones around," he said.

Most commenters on the original video supported the pair, however, saying the video didn't truly capture their working day, with one adding that "traffic control isn't an easy job".

The Herald was flooded was responses after yesterday's story, with readers chiming in to tell us what they thought was acceptable when it comes to slacking off - and what was not.

Most Kiwis will remember a time when work was slow and their minds or hands wandered. Anyone for office cricket? Or just killing some time on Facebook or YouTube?

But for some correspondents, the road workers' actions were anything but innocent.

"Quite unprofessional, and dangerous!" wrote one. "Considering the health and safety measures to adhere to, a misplaced cone can cost thousands."

The road workers themselves tell of early starts, long hours and hard work - and a lack of understanding from other Kiwis about what they do.

One worker said that many people had failed to understand that those workers would likely have been unable to move from the site as they waited for other contractors to arrive. They warned others to "quit moaning until you have been in their boots because I am currently in their boots!"

One man who responded to the story had worked with the traffic management team working near Waihī and was full of praise for their work, which he said was keeping roadworkers safe.

"All they do is sit in the hot sun moving cones, picking cones up, guiding traffic, doing road blocks and most of all keeping us contractors safe.

"If they wanna throw cones around all good, at the end of the day they (are) keeping us safe and sending us back home to our whanau."

One worker, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted the Herald on his break today to speak out:

"You have to do 12 to 14-hour shifts in the sun with long sleeves, long pants, glasses, gloves and a hard hat, and it's boiling.

"We have our break times to enjoy our job more, and yes we have a bit of fun. We have to put up with people speeding through our site and hoping they stay in their lane, otherwise it's life or death.

"We hope to go home at night alive to see our loved ones. Working on the roads is an active job and we try our hardest to be in and out - the longer we are on the road the risk is higher for accidents."

The worker said he wanted to speak out to raise awareness of how dangerous speeding through road sites could be.

"In the last hour of watching traffic I have lost count of the amount of people on their phones and also had only around five to six people who stick to the speed limit.

"Funny enough, when there is a police officer in the line of traffic, magically everyone can travel at the correct speed."

In March of last year, three men died on State Highway 2 near Pikowai when a truck crashed into them while they were working.

Haki Hika, David Eparaima and Dudley Soul Raroa died in what experienced helicopter pilot Todd Dunham called the "most chaotic" scene he had seen in his career.

Dunham said three road workers were hit by a "truck coming down the road and now they've lost their lives".