16 Feb 2022

Protest outside Parliament: Still no sign of towing to remove blockade of vehicles

3:12 pm on 16 February 2022

There is still no sign of towing services to remove vehicles illegally parked or blocking the way near Parliament, where protesters are occupying the area for the ninth day.

Protesters' vans and cars blocking the corner of Molesworth St and Hill St outside Parliament grounds, and tarpaulin awnings set up on the footpath.

Photo: RNZ

The group is protesting against a range of the government's Covid-19 measures, including vaccine mandates, and have been inspired by similar convoy movements overseas.

Yesterday, police gave the protesters an ultimatum, to either move their vehicles or they will be towed. Anyone who tries to block police from doing so would face arrest, said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

This morning, Coster said towing would begin today, however, he also admitted that some towing companies are reluctant to help with the removal of vehicles.

A tow truck operator told RNZ that the real reason police have had difficulties getting towies to move vehicles is because many of them were sympathetic to the protesters' cause.

About midday today, there was a noticeably larger police presence around the outskirts of the blockade.

Protesters have been given free parking at nearby Sky Stadium in a bid to clear the streets, but Coster said protesters had not taken up the offer for alternative solutions that could clear the roads.

The Defence Force also yesterday confirmed it responded on Friday to the police request for assistance in removing vehicles blocking the streets in Wellington.

Police said they would hold on to the vehicles they removed and probably the courts would decide what happened in terms of them being returned to their owners.

Some protesters are trying to engage public support with a sign reading "toot for freedom" placed at the intersections of Bowen and Molesworth Streets.

But more horns are coming from those vehicles already illegally parked.

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