If you have noticed that the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) has been inactive lately, it’s because it is broke.
BRSA President Sharmane Roland-Bowen told Barbados TODAY the association has been functioning without a budget since January last year, after the then Freundel Stuart administration abruptly stopped providing a subvention.
Roland-Bowen said she was confident the decision was in retaliation for the BRSA’s anti-pothole initiative.
“They never gave us a letter with a reason, it just stopped. We were just calling and going there and there was nothing there,” the road safety advocate said.
Much to the chagrin of Stuart’s Democratic Labour Party Government, the association initiated a programme to alert unsuspecting road users to dangerous potholes, which at the time were a major area of concern for motorists and pedestrians, by placing brightly-coloured warning signs ahead of the potholes.
The orange triangular flags on bright yellow sticks were placed 40 feet from potholes in a number of parishes, including St Michael, St James and St Thomas.
Then Minister of Transport Michael Lashley was highly critical of the programme, which received widespread support from road users.
The BRSA defied orders to remove the flags, although it ceased erecting any more after it was ordered to take them down.
Having already reduced its subvention from $2,500 to $2,000, the administration decided to financially starve the BRSA, Roland-Bowen charged.
“We were given a budget of $2,200, it used to be $2,500 under the Barbados Labour Party and it was reduced under the Democratic Labour Party, [and]because of the flags they took it away,” she explained.
“We have no funds, we came out last year and took a stand where the potholes were concerned [and we paid the price for it],” Roland Bowen explained.
This notwithstanding, an unapologetic BRSA head said even though it had been forced to all but halt its road safety education programmes, the decision at the time to bring attention to the dangers posed by the potholes was worthwhile.
“We don’t mind losing it because we achieved our objective, which was getting the road fixed and we warned people,” the road safety advocate said.
“You know how many persons said that those flags saved them from falling into potholes?”
Roland-Bowen also said she was hoping the Mia Mottley-led administration would take road safety seriously, and treat it as a “mission critical” issue.
“ I don’t see anything more critical than losing lives on the roads or trying to save them,” she said, as she appealed to the public and the private sector for support in order to help the BRSA spread the message of road safety.