AS highlighted in our Express Takes Action column yesterday, the everlasting challenge of roadways right across the country rendered impassable, or dangerous because of gaping potholes revealed an interesting twist.
Residents of Hololo Road, in the elevated Cascade district, have been complaining of the deplorable state of their road. One elderly resident told us that a paving job was carried out on part of the road during an exercise in 2018. The job ended at a point where the not so well off and affluent community ends, and ordinary life takes over, leading to the perception of favouritism.
Where the influential people are living is where it was paved, and where the poor people are living is where it remains, this resident claimed. Such a sentiment was effectively endorsed by the local councillor for the areas, Sherwyn Jones. He told our reporter these concerns were brought to his attention at the time, in 2018. He said while the pavings did appear to benefit the middle to high income residents, these were completed by the PURE programme for road repairs operated by the Ministry of Works. But, he said this was done on an assessment made by the engineers at the ministry, based on what he called “financial constraints”.
Another hitch to this on-going frustration of the neglect of roadways in general has been exemplified in this project as well. The road in question is the responsibility of a regional corporation, but because of a reported lack of funding, the works were conducted by the Ministry of Works. The conundrum continues to the point at which the Ministry’s programme is itself negatively affected by a “lack of funds”.
In this case, however, the Member of Parliament for the area is Minister of National Security Stuart Young. With the matter having been brought to his attention, presumably not for the first time, he promises again to “look into it.” He says he has been advocating for attention to bad roads in his constituency throughout his tenure as MP, also acknowledging a “lack of funds” as the limiting factor, and disavowing any notion about favouritism based on affluence among residents.
Whatever the circumstances are, however, there cannot continue to be a situation in which residents, in any part of the country, feel discriminated against by agencies of the state, on the basis of their presumed lack of power and influence.
The issue of bad, deplorable and impassable roads, themselves often the cause of accidents and unplanned expenses, has plagued too many people in too many communities for long enough.
What is required is a much more dedicated focus on the true meaning of PURE, on a Programme to Upgrade Roads Everywhere. In some cases it is landslides and landslips which occur, while in others it is simply the neglect of basic maintenance, until frustrated residents begin to burn tyres and block access through their communities.
The evidence suggests that not nearly enough planning goes into the development of a much needed national road maintenance system. A “pothole and drainage programme” appears to be an urgent priority item, to be driven by the Ministry of Works, with the active involvement of the regional corporations.