The owner of a Waikato-based towing company said the task of moving 450 Parliament vehicles would be “like trying to sell property on the moon”.
Police said this morning they had ‘significantly increased towing capacity’ as protesters spent 10 days of their occupation of Parliament grounds.
Paeroa Towing Services owner Michael Small had provided information to protesters on how they could ‘slow down the system’ for towing vehicles, such as if someone was inside the vehicle at the time .
Small told the Herald that he was among “probably 50” towing companies that would not assist in the task of removing illegally parked vehicles.
“I am for law-abiding, non-violent civil disobedience in this matter,” he said.
Another tow truck operator also told RNZ yesterday that many companies would not tow vehicles to Parliament because they sympathized with the protesters.
But while supporting the protesters, Small also said removing all vehicles would be an impossible task.
“I do six tows a day, how long would it take me to do 450 vehicles?”
“I could bring in 10 trailers and do twenty cars at once – that’s still over a week to remove. Plus all the people walking around the vehicles are going to slow you down.”
Then there was the difficulty of knowing where to store the towed vehicles, he said.
“They have to store the vehicles safely in a secure environment. Then, as soon as the vehicle is picked up by the tow truck, it’s the tugs’ responsibility for any damage during storage or loss of goods.”
He said there were specific requirements for where a towed vehicle could be kept – it had to be secure, but also accessible to the owner.
“There’s nowhere in Wellington where you can put these vehicles and people can pick up stuff when they need it, because somebody has to look after where the vehicles are,” did he declare.
“Where can you put 450 cars, where can you allow customers to come in? Because they are legally allowed to take their things out of their vehicles, so there has to be an entry point and an exit point.
“Sky Stadium wouldn’t work because it’s not secure – how are you going to let people in, are you going to have a security guard taking everyone in their own vehicle?”
The protesters’ village seen from the third floor of Parliament on day 10 of the anti-mandate protest and occupation in Parliament. Photo/Mark Mitchell
While police signaled Tuesday evening that they would begin towing illegally parked vehicles, it had not yet started by Thursday afternoon.
They warned that congested streets were creating safety issues, such as last night when a protester suffered a medical problem.
“The woman was taken to hospital but once again the ambulance was unable to get to her directly due to protesters’ vehicles blocking the surrounding roads,” police said.
Retail stores and cafes around Wellington’s central business district were also worried about the traffic jam hurting their businesses.
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Arcus said earlier in the day the protest was deterring people from entering the city and offices where they would shop, businesses to Cuba St closing their doors early.