EDITORIAL: More lights needed
OVER the last few weeks there has been much public discussion about poor lighting on the highways and byways of the island, and many have expressed concern about this issue, even attributing the lack of adequate lighting to some of the accidents that have been taking place.
Now it may be difficult to say for sure if poor street lighting has been a major or even contributing factor as it relates to some of the accidents that have occurred, but it is safe to say that poor lighting reduces visibility and therefore increases the risks posed to road users. Given that, while we are certain that the Ministry of Transport and Works is aware of this fact and is likely taking steps to deal with the problem, we want to impress upon them to step up their efforts, not only fixing any lights which are currently out of service, but retrofitting the existing ones to utilise more energy efficient and renewable energy options as a matter of urgency.
Additionally, we think it wise that steps be taken sooner rather than later, to install street lighting in some of the more remote areas of the island, which some unscrupulous persons may be using to lurk in the shadows and prey on unsuspecting drivers or pedestrians passing by.
Indeed, our call is not fanciful, as we recollect that as far back as 2012, the then Minister of Transport and Works, John Boyce, had announced that there were plans to retrofit the street lights with LED lighting, and then move towards the use of renewable energy to power those lights which would help to reduce the country’s multimillion-dollar fossil fuel bill. Government officials also said there was a plan to phase out inefficient lighting, being done through the Public Sector Smart Energy Programme funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Union. Through this initiative, Government working along with the Barbados Light and Power Co. Ltd., we were told, intended to replace over 25 000 street lights across the length and breadth of this country.
We would like to respectfully suggest to Government that even as it looks to execute this plan, it also considers other ways in which it can ensure that there is adequate and efficient lighting placed across this nation, particularly in the remote areas, mostly found in rural Barbados. Admittedly, we know it is likely to be a mammoth and indeed difficult task to accomplish, and certainly cannot be achieved overnight or even mere months, as both finances and manpower would be needed to make it a reality. But perhaps the authorities could employ a concept similar to that of the Adopt-a-Stop programme that has been in place for some years, and the Adopt-a-Kilometre project launched in 2014, to erect and ensure the maintenance of more street lights in this nation.
In respect of the former programme, we have seen in recent years bus shelters with solar-powered lighting and through the latter, in addition to ensuring that the kilometre they sponsor is beautified and well kept, those who came on board can place their ads in the solar-powered facilities available. An excellent advertising and marketing tool!
Would it then be so far-fetched to consider starting an initiative to get persons to sponsor the provision of street lights powered with either wind or solar energy, and allowing them to place ads on the same polls? And should this idea find favour with the authorities or some entrepreneur out there, it would be wise to also put lighted signposts on the polls, especially in rural areas where there is limited signage. Such a measure would be of benefit to not only Barbadians, many of whom do not know the island as well as they should, but definitely visitors to these shores who are never shy about getting into their rented vehicles and exploring.