The growing indiscipline on the roads of Barbados by operators of motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, is cause for great concern. Indifference and indiscipline now seemingly characterize the behaviour of road users.
This comes as a surprise when one considers that Barbadians are highly touted as an educated people, who are known to demonstrate respect for law and order. The average Barbadian would identify with this, and proudly voice to the world that Barbados is the orderly society that it is hailed to be.
The actions by some workers within the community are contributing to the ruin of the reputation and character that Barbados is perceived to have. It is unfortunate that those who are in the forefront of the public’s eye are some of the biggest culprits.
It is common knowledge that there are concerns about the driving practices and habits of many of the drivers and conductors of private sector vehicles, commonly known as ZR’s, as well as minibuses. Quickly joining this group, are the drivers of the state-owned Transport Board buses.
While we can easily point fingers at the behaviour of those above, it would not be fair if the poor road habits exhibited by other road users are not also condemned. For example, there is still indiscriminate tossing of litter through the windows of vehicles. There is no regard to the fact this could contribute to an accident or injury.
Those who work on the highways and byways are expected to demonstrate a level of responsible behaviour. It is unacceptable to see a Sanitation Services Authority vehicle, parked on the right side of the road and facing the oncoming traffic, while collecting garbage. In this instance other road users are placed at risk. Drivers who are proceeding on the correct side of the road are immediately blinded.
It is worse when the Sanitation Services Authority’s vehicle stops in the middle of the road, and in doing so impede the free flow of traffic. The workers seem not to be aware or care of the dangers to which they expose themselves.
In the worst case, there can be a fatality, when they blindly cross the road without looking left or right, to collect a garbage receptacle. Worse yet is when they skate the refuse containers across the road, without regard for oncoming vehicles or pedestrians.
It is breathtaking to watch these workers clinging precariously on the back of the often fast moving vehicle, and then in true Hollywood style, jump off into moving traffic to collect a refuse container. It is even more dramatic to see them running and hopping onto a moving vehicle.
It is for the authorities to monitor these matters and address them, for the safety, health and welfare of these workers is at stake.
It is a sorry sight to witness the refuse left on the streets after the attendants toss the contents of the receptacle into the back of the truck. This then creates a hazard for other road users.
It is suggested that none of the actions described in this article are supposedly deliberate acts on the part of the workers. The nature of the job suggests that they move along with haste, so as to minimize any inconvenience to the travelling public.
This is however no excuse why they should be callous in their execution, so as to first endanger their own life and limb, and place members of the travelling public at risk. It requires that the conditions of service of the sanitation employees be taken seriously.
There is room for the authorities to take a closer look at these issues, and move to address them post-haste, in the interest of the workers and that of public safety.
(Dennis De Peiza is a labour management consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.)