Delayed road works are threatening to push already struggling business people in rural Barbados over the brink while severely inconveniencing communities.
And Shadow Minister for Transport and Works Dwight Sutherland also thinks government should consider building more concrete roads to reduce its infrastructural costs, in addition to improving coordination with state and private utility companies.
He spoke on these issues this morning in the House of Assembly on a $3.7 million supplementary resolution, most of it related to road works throughout Barbados.
The St. George South MP said he knew of several roads in constituency where roads remained unfinished, and small shops and other businesses were losing money.
He suggested the problem was replicated elsewhere in the country and said in order to ensure it was not spending money inefficiently, the state needed to make improvements in this and related areas.
“My call is for the (Minister of Transport and Works) not only to come to this Honourable House for supplementaries but make sure that these roads are done within the budgetary time frame and that businesses within this country, the small businesses, based on this current economic climate, …do not suffer as a result of timely road works in this country,” he said.
“I am asking that when you start these road works that have been listed here that you finish these road works within the budgetary time frame.
“Do not let these road works carry over to four years and five years and then go to the people and say you don’t have any money. It is part of your duty to make sure that you don’t under budget or that you don’t over budget… we have technical persons in the ministry so we need to make sure that we budget properly for these road works and ensure that people don’t lose income as a result.
“Don’t let the road works push us further into the rut, let us focus on having these road works done timely,” he advised.
The Barbados Labour Party spokesman also urged the use of concrete roads as another way to save costs amid difficult economic times.
“I would like to see some concrete roads being laid in this country because what you are talking about is sustainable development. You don’t have to go back at these roads in 30 years,” he said.
“We are talking about saving foreign exchange, we have local indigenous product here and we are talking about saving foreign exchange. When we do asphalt roads there is a cost in terms of foreign exchange going out of this country and I would like us to focus on concrete roads in this country.”
Sutherland, who represents a rural constituency, said that part of Barbados had been neglected by government.
“I am happy that… this government has seen it fit to do some road works in rural Barbados. It is amazing when I look through this supplementary and the roads that have been highlighted… I see no tenantry roads in the constituency of St. George highlighted here in this supplementary,” he said, noting the Scotland District had also been left out.
Beyond that, he thought improved coordination of road projects was a must.
“…We will see road works being done and two weeks after we see the road being dug up, water mains being laid, other lines from the various utility services and this is something that we need to stop. Better coordination needs to happen,” he said. (SC)