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A royal pain

Roy Morris

A royal pain

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All over Barbados motorists and residents are wishing and hoping that those responsible will patch the potholes that dot their paths. In Melverton, St George, however, some residents are praying for a few more potholes in their road – well sort of.
That’s because they are victims of our Government’s apparent inability to complete the road projects it has started. Melverton rests at the western end of a major road project that stretches from near Church Village in St Philip to the junction at Brighton, St  George.
It’s a project that has made considerable projects, but has been very long in the making. My fascination with the undertaking really relates to the length  of time it is taking those responsible to get it done. Four years ago I stumbled upon the massive  headache while travelling from the Normal Niles Roundabout on the ABC?Highway to Bushy Park for the Soca Royale event.
I could not imagine then that people who lived  in St Philip used that road daily to get to and from the City. The potholes were huge – more like craters in the marl surface – and the dust from the miles of road foundation over which motorists were forced to drive was choking.
One year later, while returning to Bushy Park for another episode of Soca Royale, I was again struck by the fact that very little progress had been made. Except for a couple hundred metres of the base course of asphalt closer to the St Philip end of the project, nothing much had changed.
Last year during Crop Over, however, since I did not have reason to travel along that road during the year, I decided deliberately to make it my route to Bushy Park, just so I could check the progress. A lot more road had been paved, but there still was a lot of exposed marl surface. I could not imagine that a simple road project, three years on could still be in that state.
I started then to count the number of members of the Government who were from the east, or who have some eastern connection – Michael Lashley, Adriel Brathwaite, Chris Sinckler, Donville Inniss, Dr David Estwick, Senator David Durant, Senator Jepter Ince, Mara Thompson and of course Prime Minister Freundel Stuart – and wondered what they thought when they used the road or came into contact with constituents, friends or family who are negatively impacted.
Then two weeks ago I had to journey to St Philip to conduct an interview about the new Bushy Park Racing Circuit, thinking that in a matter of weeks I would be returning there for yet another Soca Royale, and decided I would use this same route.
Surprise! Surprise!
The potholes and choking dust clouds were there to greet me again. A lot more of the road had been paved so clearly progress had been made, but this time something else caught my attention. And it was  enough to make me stop and ask a few questions.
I could not understand why there was not a single workman, or piece of road construction equipment around if this was a project in progress. Not even the usual truck driving up and down to wet the surface  and control the dust. I just stood and tried to imagine what it would be like living in one of those residences at Melverton. How do you wake up to a dust-filled home, bathe, cook, watch television – do all the things everyone else takes for granted as they go about their daily lives.
Then I watched the people standing at the bus stop awating transportation to work and school and saw the discomfort, even agony, they endured every time a car drove by. When the passing vehicle was a truck or even an approaching bus, nothing could save them from the dust mess that came with it.
One resident explained that the last time he saw workmen  on the project was “sometime last year”. He no longer bothers – just hopes that relief will come sometime soon.
Gregston Alleyne, who has lived in the district all his life, is thankful that he has a job to go to each day. That saves him from eating dust all day. He is one resident who is thankful for the huge potholes that anger so many motorists who use the road daily. That’s because those potholes force motorists to drive slowly, saving him from the wave of dust clouds that envelop the area when others ignore the ruts and speed by.
I understand the hard times the country is experiencing and the consequent negative impact on public finances, but this is not just a matter of a smooth road. It has to do with a clear failure to deal with a serious health threat. It has to do with a Government that has failed to employ alternative measures available to it to get this job done. It has to do with a lack of consideration for the plight of the residents of Melverton.
What makes this worse is that this problem  in St George is not isolated. Residents in so many other parts of the island have had a similar experience or are still going through it. No reasonable citizen can expect progress without some inconvenience, but it has to be reasonable inconvenience. Dragging out a road construction project for years when it can be done in far less time is unacceptable.
Given this scenario, I?have no choice but to take the route of Moody’s and give the Government a failing grade for its performance in this area.
Roy Morris is Editor-in-Chief of THE?NATION; email [email protected]