Residents of St John today echoed the concerns raised by their parliamentary representative Mara Thompson back in March, when she said she was both “horrified” and “angry” over the lack of attention being given by her own Government to the rural parish.
It was during debate on the 2017-2018 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure that Thompson zeroed in on the bad state of the roads in St John, while voicing her strong displeasure over the current bus service provided by the state-run Transport Board, which she said also left a lot to be desired.
“The buses don’t come on time or don’t come at all, namely the Sargeant’s and the Martins Bay bus. [Residents] are not pleased about the lack of action in acquiring the ground at College Savannah where Sussex Cricket Club plays cricket. I have numerous letters,” Thompson had stated at the time.
Thompson, the widow of late Prime Minister David Thompson, who took over the St John seat following his passing back in 2010, had also identified a number of communities that were affected by “ruts, potholes, bumps and craters”, resulting in “destruction of shocks, depreciation of cars, angry constituents and an angry Member of Parliament”.
While expressing similar horror today, Foster Hall resident Jacqueline Skeete told Barbados TODAY the situation was nothing short of a “disgrace”, suggesting that when it rains one could actually drown in a pothole in St John.
“If you are not familiar with the area you could [also] get in an accident because the roads are so narrow and so bad, made even worse by the overhanging trees,” she added.
Skeete, who has been living in the rural parish for several years, said, “it has been years since the roads have been fixed, despite numerous calls to the authorities”.
Another Foster Hall resident, Malcolm Knight, told Barbados TODAY he was tired of trying to get the attention of the authorities, adding that to date the cries of residents had simply fallen on deaf ears.
“These roads are ridiculous and the Minister of Transport and Works [Michael Lashley] know out here bad because he himself told us he can’t send minibuses up here ‘cause the roads too bad. He tell we so at a town hall meeting,” Knight said, while stressing that there were “real potholes and even a big crack in the middle of the road”.
“I drop in a pothole coming up the road and now my rim and tyre damaged. This is ridiculous,” he told Barbados TODAY while questioning whether he was paying road tax to be further inconvenienced.
Apart from the challenges posed by potholes and an unreliable bus service, residents also complain that several areas of the parish are now overrun with bush.
In fact, just last week Lionel Holder and some other residents of Foster Hall were forced to take matters into their own hands in an attempt to debush an area which they said was becoming a hazard.
“Me and some others come out with our cutlasses and cut down some of the bush hanging on the road because it was becoming dangerous. The road already terrible and full of potholes; it already narrow and to make things worse trees overhanging, so something had to go,” Holder said.
Over in Bay Tavern, Phillip Cain accused Lashley of doing absolutely nothing for the people of St John.
“A group of residents came together to fix the roads a few times but it is costly to maintain the effort; we buy cement, get sand and stone and we mix concrete and fill in the potholes ourselves because nobody from MTW don’t come down here and when they do they drop the Barber Green in and say ‘traffic will roll it out’, but traffic doesn’t roll out Barber Green. It digs it out,” Cain said.
Another Bay Tavern resident, who did not want to be identified by name, said a similar project had been conducted in New Castle, St John.
“All the roads are horrible, one of our neighbours put down Barber Green but unfortunately because we are on a slope when the rain fell it washed away, the roads are twice as bad when the rain falls because you don’t even know you dropping in a pothole,” she said.
She also the narrowness of the road is troubling when there is no bus.
“The Martin’s Bay bus comes when it feels like and then children going to St Margaret’s Primary have to walk 15 to 20 mins on these roads just to get to school, it is terrible and dangerous,” she said.