If the Barbados Road Safety Association follows through with its plans, the island’s roads will soon be pockmarked with warning flags alerting motorists to potholes that are appearing on almost every public driveway.
The Tuesday announcement of the safety move by BRSA President Sharmaine Roland-Bowen amounts to the only consolation coming to frustrated motorists in Barbados who were for months crying out about these depressions, some crater-like, that wreck havoc on their vehicles.
Barbadians have long been calling on their cash-strapped government to fix the neglected and deteriorating road network, and things took a turn for the worse with the onset of seasonal rains in October with the deluge of water washing away parts of already weak roads.
Along with ignored roads that began falling apart with rains, grass and other underbrush sprang up adding to the untidiness of the once pristine landscape.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley pounced upon the situation in mid-November, two weeks before the golden jubilee independence celebrations, by saying that the country is not ready for the influx of visitors expected for 50th anniversary party.
“The truth is the people are starting to come from next week, but the country is not clean. ... Not even the Spring Garden Highway. In the middle of the road, the grass is in the road, the side of the road the grass is about 12 to 15 inches high, the potholes are another problem,” she said.
Government responded to the outcry by throwing Bar$5 million (Bar$1 = 50 cents US) behind a pothole repair effort, but when the enormity of the repair need hit home, it threw another $15 million into the effort early December.
But the problem persisted resulting in the road safety association becoming fearful that it is only a matter of time before the many road mishaps become serious vehicular crashes.
“People are wondering what is happening with their taxes that they pay every year and the fines from courts. They [government officials] are putting them in other areas while people are out there getting into accidents,” BRSA President Roland-Bowen was reported saying in the daily newspapers.
She added, “I know road users have a duty to uphold the laws of the road, but the government has a duty of care to us road users, and part of that duty is to make the roads safe and ensure they are in reasonable condition. They have been neglecting that for too long ... so something needs to be done.”
Roland-Bowen said she and her colleagues will be seeking to plant a flag in as many pot holes as can be identified, and has appealed to road users to inform her whenever they encounter these traffic hazards.
In so far as pointers are concerned, the road safety association volunteers can turn to a Facebook site, titled ‘Potholes of Barbados,’ that was created in response to the deplorable road situation, giving sometimes comic relief, while displaying photos of the holes across Barbados.
The online newspaper, Barbados TODAY, Tuesday night reported Transport and Works Minister, Michael Lashley, responding to the continued outcry by promising a restart of road patching, coupled with more comprehensive repairs from next week.
He explained that the contracted workers had taken a break for the holidays. “We’ve patched a number of potholes between November and December.
“We are starting back out on Monday, back on the potholes.”
Meanwhile, the nation will collectively hold its breadth, hoping that potholes do not claim the first road fatality for 2017.