The Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) has served notice on the Freundel Stuart administration that it will not voluntarily take down flags placed along Barbadian roads to alert drivers to the presence of potholes.
BRSA President Sharmane Roland-Bowen told Barbados TODAY the flags were serving their intended purpose and the association would stand its ground.
“We will not be removing them unless we are commanded to in writing. The flags attract the attention of motorists and show them where the potholes are located. We have been receiving tremendous response. The phones have been ringing off the hook. Persons are just thanking us for highlighting where the potholes, which are hazards, are located. The response from the general public is that the flags show them where the potholes are, especially at night, and they really appreciate that,” Roland-Bowen said.
Speaking on the state own Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation last night, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley made it clear Government would not be held accountable for any accidents caused by the flags.
Lashley said although well intentioned, the BRSA did not have permission to plant the flags.
However, a defiant Roland-Bowen said if the association were to voluntarily remove the flags it would be the equivalent of colluding with the authorities in neglecting their duty to road users.
“Our flags, they help save people from landing in the potholes and can also save lives and injuries when people try to avoid the potholes at last minute. In road safety we do not react, we take a proactive approach to prevent collisions from happening. We are standing ground; we are standing up for safety on our roads. You have to stand for something [or] you would fall for anything,” the road safety advocate said.
She said for far too long Barbadians had been sitting idly by and suffering as a result of bad roads, and now was the time to take a stand.
“Our roads have been deteriorating for decades. They’ve gotten to the point where they are weak that’s why they’re developing so many potholes. We have also taken poor lighting conditions on a number of our roads. We have been paying our taxes and getting nothing in return. We aren’t second class citizens and we don’t want second class treatment. We want to make that perfectly clear,” she stressed.
This was not the first time that the BRSA was defying the authorities on the flag planting issues.
Shortly after launching the initiative at the start of the year, at which brightly coloured flags were erected along sections of the roads in several communities to alert motorists of upcoming potholes, the MTW called on the association to take them down, contending that they were “in contravention of a subsection law and the flags posed a hazard”.
Confident that the public was behind the initiative, Roland-Bowen said at the time while the association would not erect any more flags, it would not take down any of those it had already planted.
However, it relaunched the programme last weekend with a strong message to the MTW that potholes do not save lives, they take lives.
Today, Roland-Bowen also advised motorists that should their vehicles be damaged by potholes, they are entitled to compensation.
“Take a photograph of the pothole along with the damage on the car, take note of the conditions, get an estimate, and take it in the Licensing Authority. It will take long but stick it out. That’s what they want. They want to frustrate us. The process will take a long time and they want us to get frustrated and not get compensation. But no, we deserve better roads because we are paying taxes. We should be treated better and it’s about time we take a stand,” Roland-Bowen stressed.