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EDITORIAL: Private sector road solution commendable


EDITORIAL: Private sector road solution commendable

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ONCE AGAIN we are heartened to see private citizens coming to the fore with gestures which will redound to the benefit of the entire country.

The initiative by the Aron and Christina Truss Foundation to repave a section of Highway 1 is a commendable deed which could spur others to follow suit.

For a protracted period, the poor state of Barbados’ roads has been lamented by many citizens and, more particularly, irate motorists.

Unfortunately, the situation has been made worse following heaving rains which left many drivers dodging and negotiating gaping potholes all across the island.

Many people have not only spoken out but also lodged complaints because of the serious damage done to their vehicles as a result of these “craters” in the road. The anger from motorists, road safety advocates and even some Government officials highlights how dire the situation has become.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who enjoys the privilege of travelling in state-owned vehicles, sees it differently. Obviously unaware of the terrible state of the roads, he does not see it as an issue, certainly not for visitors to the island.

In what can best be described as a paltry response, Government’s road patching programme through its Ministry of Transport and Works has filled some holes but left many a road bumpy and uneasy for even sturdy, heavy-duty vehicles.

Enter the foundation that is looking to go beyond mere patching but undertaking a full repaving of over seven kilometres, which should redound to the benefit of not only motorists but pedestrians who must use this major thoroughfare.

We commend this initiative, which has never been attempted before by the private sector, and it is heartening that a number of businesses along the stretch to be repaired have already signed on to the project.

It makes no sense just sitting and complaining that at both the individual and corporate levels we are all heavily taxed in Barbados, and that it is Government’s responsibility to maintain the public highways. While there is merit in such an argument, the nation’s repair efforts were simply too slow.

There have been roads all across the island that have been in a state of disrepair for an extended period and have become the bane of motorists. They have had to endure suffering for far too long.

This is why the public will welcome and hopefully positively respond to the efforts to raise the $3.6 million to fix a section of Highway 1.

The question is whether the Ministry of Transport and Works will see the wisdom of taking the project to its logical conclusion – all the way to Speightstown. Hopefully, no roadblocks will be placed in the way of this private sector initiative.

Government, however, must not see this solution as a way to abdicate its responsibilities to consistently and effectively maintain all roads. Taxpayers deserve better.

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