Jamaican potholes are like craters

November 25, 2016
Potholes along a Corporate Area road

Every time I drive on the streets of Kingston, I feel like I am doing an obstacle course.

I often find that I have to gauge how to miss a pothole, the size of the Caribbean Sea, while at the same time trying to avoid colliding head-on with an oncoming vehicle.

If you take a closer look at the surface of most roads in this country, they resemble what I would imagine the surface of the moon to look like.

If you have ever seen a moon rover drive across the surface of the moon, forever dipping in and out of craters, that is exactly how we look when driving on some roads in this country.

What that means is that driving in the days is bad, so driving at night is treacherous, like driving in a minefield in Saigon or Iraq.

 

UNPREDICTABLE POTHOLES

 

You can never tell when a pothole will blow up your tyre and wreck your suspension. It is even worse when it rains because then you really can't see the water-filled trenches that we call potholes.

We only know that we hit one when the car tilts to one side like the moon rover I mentioned earlier. I can't tell you how many times I have had to have my car realigned and balanced after hitting one of these craters on our streets.

You can actually hear the money leaving your wallet for the parts store when you drop into one of these trenches. But why does it continue to happen?

Who, for example, are the people who continue to use marl as the foundation for roads when everybody knows that as soon as rain falls, it washes out the marl and creates these pockets of space underneath the road surface that eventually collapse creating a pothole in the process?

For what seems like forever, we have been using this failed method to create roads. It makes you wonder if it is all deliberate, a way for contractors to get the Government to keep spending money to repair road surfaces every time it rains.

Waterloo Avenue, off Waterloo Road, near Devon House, looks like a quilt. The patchwork is evidence of a multitude of repair jobs over the years that each time last as long as it takes to get the next shower of rain.

Bouygues came here a few years ago and showed us how to use concrete to make road surfaces, and we still see those roads today without potholes.

A few years ago, I asked my uncle, who is an engineer, why it was that concrete was not used to build roads and he explained that it was too expensive.

I would argue, however, that it is just as, if not more expensive repairing the same pothole year after year. It's like running on the spot. The money spent repairing the same roads each year could have been used to fix or build roads elsewhere.

In a country where money is hard to come by, and wasteful spending needs to be controlled, isn't it time we found a way to build more durable roads and effect more meaningful repairs?

People are spending billions of dollars repairing front ends and replacing tyres each year because of the road surfaces.

That money could have been spent doing other meaningful things, like investing for the future or sending a child to university or simply taking a well-earned vacation.

I don't know about you, but I need a vacation because I am tired of driving on these minefields we call roads.

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