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EDITORIAL: We need action plan

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: We need action plan

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Determining national priorities at a time when the State’s finances are extremely challenged is no doubt a problem for the current Government.
Traditionally our people have not complained of the high volume of taxes we pay because our governments have a long tradition of delivering. In education, health, physical infrastructure and so on, we have expended huge sums annually and our citizens have seen the benefits.
Today, however, Barbadians are complaining because the correlation between high taxes and service delivery is not as clear – and getting murkier daily. The situation at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital with reduced services occasioned by reduced supplies, which are a result of reduced support, presents a very clear example of what our country faces.
The question is: When we no longer have the volume of money we would need to provide the various services, but our people have grown to expect them all, how does a government determine what it will cut – or what it will neglect.
We cannot make that decision for the current Democratic Labour Party administration, and we are not sure they would listen even if we did, anyhow. However, we do believe we have a duty to point out one area which, while it may not present a life-and-death situation as might be the case at the QEH, can create a major crisis of spending that could take us decades to correct.
We speak of the neglect of our roads in rural Barbados. In this matter we cannot place blame entirely on the shoulders of the Dems, because the Barbados Labour Party while it was in power also presided over much neglect. But the current Government needs at least to show that it recognises what is taking place and offer some indication of a plan of action.
The deterioration of the section of the Charles Duncan O’neal Highway that runs through Cleland Hill on the St Peter/ St Andrew border has been has been taking place unchecked for several years. Cracks in the road at Horse Hill, St Joseph, have been given surface treatment. The entire stretch of road from Hillaby, St Thomas, to Bawdens, St Andrew, provides motorists with a series of sensations more associated with anything from a roller coaster to bucking bronco.
There are also a number of roads in St Joseph that have been long showing similar deterioration – Melvins Hill, Parks Road, Lower Parks, Parks Yard, Coconut Grove all the way to Coggins Hill, St Andrew; and Coconut Grove through Ridge Road heading in the direction of Bathsheba.
Others have been neglected for so long they cease to be even recognised as roads, including Spa Hill, Fruitful Hill, Cane Garden, Boarded Hall, Mellows and Suriname.
In fact, Fruitful Hill, Spa Hill and Mellows are perfect examples of what can happen when neglect becomes established. These once vital thoroughfares now only show up on satellite imagery of Barbados as tracks that disappear into dense vegetation. We should not allow this to recur on any of the roads we have mentioned.
We have expended too much on infrastructural development over the past 50 or so years to allow a period characterised by inertia and a “what-yuh-bothering-’bout, we-will-survive” attitude to settle in.