The country’s leading road safety advocate is describing as “ignorance” a comment by Minister of Housing Denis Kellman on the condition of the island’s roads.
President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen today said she would not “waste my time” engaging Kellman on the comment posted on his Facebook page on New Year’s Day in which he questioned whether potholes can save lives.
“My take on it is that people are saying things out of ignorance. I really wouldn’t go to engage because you are not on a level when it comes to certain areas to speak about things. So I would not waste my time,” a hesitant Roland-Bowen said when asked to comment on Kellman’s post.
“No, it doesn’t save lives, it causes accidents, it causes injuries to people, it causes aggression and road rage on our roads. That is what they do.”
The BRSA this morning launched an initiative to alert unsuspecting road users to dangerous potholes, which have become a major area of concern for motorists and pedestrians.
Road users and safety campaigners have complained of damage to vehicles caused by the potholes, which they describe as safety hazards.
The BRSA initiative – placing brightly-coloured warning signs ahead of the potholes – is the latest effort by the organization to make the country’s roads safer.
Roland-Bowen also repeated her organization’s constant pleas for legislation to introduce breathalyzer testing and limiting the use of mobile phones while driving, as well as enforcement of laws that prohibit driving while under the influence of alcohol.
“These are three things that can save lives. So to answer that question, these are what save lives, but people are still ignoring it for their personal interest and that is not right, because who is suffering? The road users,” she said.
The BRSA placed the first sign along a section of the Sargeant Village main road in Christ Church.
However, a team from the Ministry of Transport and Works arrived there first and had patched the hole.
“You beat us to it; continue beating us to it. That is what we want,” Roland-Bowen told the team.
However, given that the material used was a mixture of gravel and tar, she expressed disappointment at the “temporary measure”.
“When you put these little things and have to come back every two or three weeks all of that is going to add up when you could have done it properly in the first place.
“We need better roads and better patching methods than what are currently being used or what they want to throw at us,” she said.
The road safety campaigner said the association had reached a point of frustration, suggesting that the authorities had made promises in the past to pacify activists, but had failed to act.
“These promises are not being kept, they are only to make you passive. But it can no longer be.
“We have given these people so many years to do the right thing and they are not doing it, and we are going into 2017, another year of waiting on false promises. No. Something needs to happen. This is where we start,” Roland-Bowen said.
The association today went to a number of parishes including, St Michael, St James and St Thomas to place the signs, made of a bright yellow stick and an orange triangular flag.
Signs are being placed about 40 feet from the potholes on roads with a speed limit below 80 kilometres per hour, and about 60 feet from potholes on roadways with a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour. (MM)