Insensitive to say the very least!
That’s how the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has described Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s response to what it is calling “Barbados’ pothole epidemic”.
In a statement Friday evening, BLP spokesman Dwight Sutherland also took Member of Parliament for St Lucy Denis Kellman to task for suggesting that potholes save lives.
Sutherland also accused Minister of Transport & Works Michael Lashley of coming with a “flash-in-the-pan response” to a problem for which there is simply no “quick-fix” solution.
However, Sutherland reserved his harshest criticism for Stuart, who suggested during a reception for visitors at Ilaro Court on Wednesday night that the entire pothole situation, which has generated national outrage, had been blown out of proportion since potholes should be viewed as an understandable and expected “inconvenience”.
“Clearly he does not find time to travel across Barbados incognito as much as he suggested he does, or he would realize that potholes are more than just an inconvenience to motorists and cyclists,” Sutherland said in response to the Prime Minister.
The Opposition Member of Parliament for St George South pointed out that many motorists had suffered damage to their vehicles as a result of dropping into potholes. He also highlighted the fact that potholes were often the reason pedestrians were splashed, and that on a few occasions they were also responsible for collisions.
He therefore deemed it “unfortunate” that the Prime Minister would seek to make light of this situation “after his minister Denis Kellman mocked Barbadians by suggesting potholes save lives.
“It clearly demonstrates the insensitivity and lack of caring this Government has for the people of Barbados,” the Opposition spokesman added.
Sutherland, a qualified mechanical engineer who has worked for two decades in the cement industry, also poured cold water on a “cement” fix announced by Lashley earlier this week. He said while he supported a concrete solution to the problem, which he said was currently plaguing “99.9 per cent of Barbados’ roads”, it needed to form part of a comprehensive road rehabilitation plan, which would also require funding.
However, Sutherland was adamant that “it can’t be approached in this hot and sweaty manner by minister Lashley, as if he is Rip Van Winkle now waking up to realize that his Government’s eight years of not doing any serious maintenance work on the roads can be erased overnight just by patching potholes.
“It can’t work so,” Sutherland insisted.
“What the minister needs to do is to get his technical people to examine how the three loans totalling nearly $40 million that Government has been able to secure, which he has made a song and dance about, can be best utilized to rehabilitate the worst potholes’ infected highways and primary roads first,” he said, adding that “the public would likely tolerate this inconvenience, to use Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s words for potholes, as it would be a long-term solution in their interest”.