Mind that pothole!
THE pothole crisis that continues to loom over this nation is one that has drawn the attention of all road users.
Let’s face the facts, yes this country has always had such a situation, but never to the extent that it is now in the history of the island’s relationship with asphalt.
It is safe to say that each major road in every parish in this country is now marred with these. Let us not even talk about the majority of the roads leading to rural Barbados. One often feels as though you are on an obstacle course, bobbing and weaving between these now everyday features, which come with their own stories of flattened tires, broken boots and damaged suspensions when unsuspecting drivers fall victim.
Over the past week, the Barbados Road Safety Association has come under high praise in the media and on call-in programmes for its initiative of placing warning flags where some of these craters are, effectively allowing drivers to know that they have to manoeuvre differently to ensure that there is no damage to their vehicles or to themselves.
Drivers insist that these flags are better markers as they not only indicate where the large holes are during the periods when these are covered by rain, but also can be seen at night due to their reflective nature.
As the debate rages as to whether these markers should be allowed since permission was not officially granted, the major question has come to the fore, “Why are our roads in this condition?”
We know that there is heavy vehicular traffic as thousands of vehicles use these streets daily, leading to significant wear and tear. We also know that it seems that as soon as a pothole is patched, the rain falls and the problem starts all over again. But we also know that in the case where more Barbadians have been paying an almost 100 per cent and for some higher increase in road tax, that the question must be asked as to why this nation’s roads are not being properly maintained.
It would be interesting for the powers that be to outline specifically how much road tax has been collected since the 2008 hike and where these funds have gone, especially at a time where several loans have been granted from the Inter-American Development Bank and other agencies for road maintenance.
We have heard the minister admit that concrete roads hold up better than the asphalt ones, but there are several logistics that go into constructing these that result in the process being more expensive. It would be interesting to be able to see the figures to consider whether it is best to spend the money on the high-end product, rather than be forced to spend much-needed funds patching up the cheaper one every year.
In addition, it would be interesting to see how many persons have filed vehicle damage reports to the Ministry and how much it has had to pay out over the last years as these sums too could also have headed into the concrete road fund.
The truth remains that as long as this issue is not addressed, these questions will be raised. Hopefully, the answers won’t fall into a pothole too.