The loss of five lives at one fell swoop on Sunday, 15th October, 2017 on the Corentyne Highway because of a pothole makes me recall the rhyme quoted by Benjamin Franklin, ‘For the want of a nail…’ The essence of its message is that the neglect of seemingly minor things can lead to colossal losses later.
The question now arises as to who is at fault. Is it the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, which is responsible for all public roads? Or is it the Regional Democratic Council? Or is it the Neighbourhood Democratic Council, which has now scrambled to fill the pothole, according to the newspaper of 17th October?
Some lawyer may argue that speeding by the motor-car driver was a contributory factor to the accident, as measured by the extensive damage from the impact. Be that as it may, one can also argue that if there was no pothole, the driver would not have had cause to swerve to the right and into the path of the oncoming vehicle.
Now this horrific accident raises the question as to why a roadman or a three-man gang in an open-back Tapir is not employed by the MPI, or M&CC, or RDCs or NDCs to do minor roadworks from time to time on highways, city streets, or village roads. Very often it is a ‘small’ pothole which needs to be filled before it becomes a crater and causes accidents. Or it may be the clearing of drains on parapets to lead off pools of water from the road after rainfall. Or it may be fixing the road surface around manholes after work by GWI in order to bring the manhole level with the road surface. Another scenario is a leaning post belonging to GPL that is threatening to fall.
Editor, things have gone wrong for so long, that doing the proper thing now seems wrong. Further, John Public is so confronted with sub-standards, that he has come to accept that as the standard.
Walter B Alexander
Deputy Permanent Secretary (ret’d)