The traffic situation on our roads can be described as being in a state of organized chaos. Successive governments have adopted a laissez-faire approach to traffic management and regrettably the Barbados Police Force (BPS) must be included as part of the problem. The lawlessness being witnessed daily on the roads in Barbados many argue is a symptom of something bigger.
The Barbados Transport Authority was established in 2007 to (a) undertake the planning of the transport system, (b) monitor and regulate the operations of the public transport system, among many other functions listed under the Transport Authority Act which was recently amended. A conclusion can be made based on what transpires daily on our roads the Transport Authority is a another failed government agency leaking taxpayer money.
Barbadians have been alarmed at the number of road fatalities for the year 2017. The 13 road fatalities have surpassed the total for all of 2016. Although official numbers are not available the number of vehicle smash-ups have also significantly increased.
Predictably Minster of Transport and Works Michael Lashley responded to the news of the latest fatality by promising to introduce new legislation by the legalizing breathalyser testing, introducing fines for texting while driving among other penalties.
Surely the minister and authorities should be able to discern that the rising number of road fatalities and vehicle smash-ups is a symptom of a societal malaise. We need relevant laws to ensure the authorities are equipped to make our roads safe to travel for Barbadians. To address the problem however requires a more cerebral approach.
The inability of successive governments for the last 40 years to effectively intervene in the transportation system to effect change does not inspire any confidence that Lashley will be the change agent needed to correct the bedlam on our roads. This is the same Lashley who was branded the ‘star boy’ of the administration pre 2013 for constructing a mobbaton of houses several which are unoccupied years later -some rotting. There is the questionable housing transaction at Coverley constructed by the omnipresent Mark Maloney –Mr.GROTTO.
This is the same Lashley who exercised poor judgement by leasing a luxury vehicle from Lloyd Bathwaite of Trans-Tech Inc, a company registered as a supplier of services to the Transport Board. In any enlightened society this would have been the type of transaction a politician and public official would be expected to declare to ensure transparency.
The lack of confidence in Michael Lashley can be explained by several other examples. For the BU household there is one at the top of the pile. In February this year the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) cancelled a segment on the early morning show Mornin’ Barbados with President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen. All who monitor the media space will admit that Roland-Bowen has been one of the most vocal when it comes to road safety and traffic issues. Trying valiantly to educate the public about proper road use. Her one mistake was to embarrass the government at the height of the national concern about the alarming number of potholes on our roads when BRSA located flags next to the deeper potholes.
It makes one question which is more important –educating Barbadians on road safety issues or shoring up a sagging political image.
Is Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley aware of the embarrassment being experienced by the country to renew a driving license? Barbadians have given up and prefer to show proof of payment with a receipt instead of the picture ID. The licensing authority has been unable to consistently produce the driving license picture ID. This is 2017 and for individuals to have to spend so much time to complete a simple driving license renewal does NOT inspire confidence Mr. Minister Michael Lashley.