If Shadow Minister for Transport and Works Trevor Prescod thought he was going to be allowed to get away with saying that Government was partly responsible for the recent upsurge in road deaths, then he was dead wrong.
Without calling the Opposition parliamentarian by name, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley today rubbished Prescod’s suggestion that the 12 fatalities, which have occurred so far this year – two more than the total number for 2016 – had occurred as a result of “treacherous” conditions on the island’s roads.
And while attempting to pin blame on the Freundel Stuart administration, Prescod had highlighted “the poor lighting on our highways, our potholed roads and highways, non-functioning traffic lights, the broken edges of roadways, overhanging bush, and unpainted and lit road crossings among others.
“Will it take someone from a brand name family to die for this Government to be moved to action on this important issue? Does an average Barbadian life no longer matter?
“We know we will be accused of being political, but we are not. The fact is, the breakdown of our road infrastructure has a human dimension. Just ask loved ones of those horribly snatched away from them,” the Opposition spokesman had said in a statement issued immediately following the death of 48-year-old Anderson Joseph, who was struck and killed at Westmoreland, St James on March 5.
However, speaking in Parliament today during the Estimates debate, Lashley said he had deliberately chosen to ignore Prescod until now.
“I recall reading in the Press that this Government is to blame for the fatal accidents, but I didn’t respond [because]
. . . I don’t know how you could have a connection between road fatalities and the Government . . . without even looking at any information that police have or anything,” Lashley said, while arguing that “Barbados still has the lowest rate in terms of fatal accidents and other accidents in the Caribbean”.
As for concerns about the deteriorating state of the island’s roads, Lashley said he had heard the cries and complaints of residents and his ministry was currently involved in a mill and pave programme to “aggressively” address the potholes situation.
“Our response is that the Cabinet, very urgently, [decided] to bring a programme to mill and pave, rehabilitate a number of roads throughout this country, and we have started,” he said, while giving the assurance that other road works were on the cards, including Caribbean Development Bank and CAF funded projects.