Maybe they cannot drive very well.
That was the less-than-subtle impression that Minister of Education Ronald Jones gave of motorists who complain of damage to their vehicles as a result of the myriad potholes in the country’s roads.
They would include Jones’ Cabinet colleague Donville Inniss, who earlier this month expressed outrage that a pothole had damaged his car tyre for the second time in quick succession, the first costing him approximately $3,000 in repairs.
Speaking with the media Wednesday afternoon following the signing of an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between Barbados and the Republic of China, Jones said he felt sorry for Inniss and others who suffered damage.
However, Jones said he had never suffered a similar fate because “I drive carefully”.
“I can’t speak about anything with the Minister of Commerce; I can speak about Ronald Jones. I drive on the streets of Barbados and I don’t drive on all pristine roads [and] I have not had a flat.
“I drive carefully on the streets of Barbados. I am not saying he [Inniss] doesn’t because I wasn’t there, but I have not had a flat, I have not had to spend money on tyres or anything like that.
“You will find that there are thousands upon thousands of Barbadians who have not been in this circumstance. I feel sorry for him, I feel sorry for any person whose car has been damaged, but there is a process as well where you write the Chief Technical Officer of the MTW [Ministry of Transport & Works] and you make your verifiable claim,” Jones said.
The minister, known for tackling controversial issues not related to his ministry, argued that the pothole crisis was nothing new, contending that Barbadians were essentially reacting to the inevitable wear and tear caused by road use and heavy rains.
He made reference to a popular calypso about potholes by Red Plastic Bag, stressing it was written during the reign of the Barbados Labour Party, as he insisted that it would not have been prudent to repair the craters while it was raining.
“Sometimes you would find that there is major disturbance to a road particularly when you have a large deluge of rain over a period of time. To me it didn’t make any sense moving in when you saw one pothole and try to fill it in with rain threatening. Wait until you have some major abatement as you are having now and move in with alacrity, deploy your workmen from your various depots as in this instance where we have brought C O Williams on board and one or two others to help with the rehabilitation,” Jones stressed.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart earlier this month caused an uproar when he responded to the public outcry about potholes by saying they were simply one of the inconveniences of life.
During a reception for repeat visitors at his official residence, Stuart downplayed the issue, saying even tourists understood and expected to encounter potholes.
“They don’t behave as though they’ve never seen potholes in the roads in their lives, and they do not behave as though their societies are crime free,” Stuart said at the time.