Wednesday, 5 May 2004 - 4:01pm |
National News

Police estimate 15,000 at Hikoi in Wellington

1 min read

Traffic in central Wellington was brought to a standstill this morning but police are generally pleased with the way the Hikoi operation unfolded.

Detective Inspector Rod Drew, acting Wellington District Commander and head of Operation Hikoi, says getting 15,000 people through the key arterial routes, highways and feeder streets in the central city was always going to be difficult in commuter periods.

"We predicted delays of more than two hours and this was certainly the case this morning," he says. "People were arriving in Parliament while the tail of the march was still in the CBD despite us opening streets as quickly as possible.

"We thank people for their patience as it can be frustrating sitting in a jam going nowhere."

The normal evening peak hour traffic is flowing, the only pressure point being at the northern end of Lambton Quay and Molesworth Street.

There are more pedestrians in the area than usual so police are asking motorists to be careful. "There’s also some drivers who are strangers to the city and aren’t familiar with street layout so please continue to be tolerant on the roads.

Detective Inspector Drew says he’s never seen Parliament Grounds so packed with people. "The afternoon went very smoothly from our point of view. The crowd was passionate as you would expect in making their views known but we had no real problems and no arrests."

The wet, blustery conditions meant people started drifting away from Parliament during the afternoon and by 4pm police had stood down half the 220 officers involved in today’s operation.

Police say a small group of Hikoi participants may be back at Parliament tomorrow but don’t anticipate any traffic disruption to the city.