Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On The Road To Somewhere?

Today's Advocate leader points to the way that highway management issues are now to be addressed. The text is below (my highlighting). I'm not sure that I would agree that they should take so much of the credit but let that pass for today. What is more important is that a series of not well thought out aspects to road use are apparently going to be addressed. I have touched on some of the aspects of highway design (such as pedestrian crossings along stretches of supposedly fast, free-flowing roads; see Why did the chicken cross the road). Many of us have also contributed in other online forums with ideas to deal with the ways that driving is done on the ABC Highway. Anyway, the point is that something may get done. I am not sure that a booklet on how to drive will help. Remedial training will be needed for many drivers, for whom highway driving is really a new concept. But, let's be good and give the Minister a chance to get things right.

Positive signs


Time to follow through

Although much is said about the “power of the press” and much credence is given to the impact of call-in programmes and other media of public discourse, at times it can seem as though comments and suggestions made by the general public and other commentators go unnoticed by the powers that be. Therefore, it is to some extent heartening when we see moves being made to implement some of the suggestions made by persons outside of the halls of Parliament.

This was the case recently with the announcement in the House of Assembly that the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) will be publishing a guide on how to use the ABC highway correctly. Minister John Boyce apologised for the lack of public relations programme thus far, noting that this was an “absolute priority”. He concurred with our view that if the matter is not dealt with post haste, road users will develop their own individual road practices, which would be hard to reverse.

Having commented on the “roundabout nightmare” that now pertains at regular intervals along the ABC highway, we are pleased to hear that this matter will be accorded the necessary attention and hope to hear more concrete news of the publication’s release.

In highlighting the difficulties encountered with manoeuvring the new highway, we also made mention of the importance of clear, understandable road markings. Therefore, we were pleased to learn that the Minister revealed at a recent DLP branch meeting that “When we [government] consider estimates this year – which we will be doing shortly – it is my intention to have road markings for the entire Barbados on the front burner to be completed by depots.”

However, while not wanting to seem greedy, as the saying goes: “one must make hay while the sun shines”. Thus, since it appears that road usage is again high on the agenda, we take the opportunity to call once again for better signage along this country’s roads.

Apart from the large signs along major arteries indicating popular destinations such as Holetown, Bridgetown, Farley Hill or the Airport, there is no real attempt to give drivers clear directions. Many road signs are damaged, illegible, or simply confusing, since they do not point in the correct direction and, inexplicably, they are almost always positioned at the entrance of the precise turn off, so that unless one is extremely vigilant, it is missed altogether.

Compounding this situation is the rapidly changing face of our landscape, with the large number of new buildings and developments constructed in the last few years, as well as renamings of buildings and districts. The idea of navigating one’s way around using local maps is unheard of, given the poor quality of those currently available. Indeed, it would take an intimate knowledge of the country to find them useful for giving more than just a general idea. Too often, they are not drawn to scale and roads and other landmarks are not accurately represented.

We therefore think it is past time for the MTW to also look into upgrading the roads signs in this country. While there are still many other transport matters that need their attention, such as traffic congestion, the ATV conundrum et al, we believe that if cosmetic features such as road markings and road usage guide are being considered as a top priority, another that should be added to the list is better road signage.

We hope to soon see the signs that this and the promised measures are going in the right direction.

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