Fix the blinking roads properly

November 03, 2017
A section of Half-Way Tree Road in Kingston was flooded following a downpour recently.

The state of the roadways in Kingston is a joke. There are enough potholes to begin with, but whenever it rains for any period beyond a day or two, as we have been experiencing lately, driving in the city is like driving in a crash-car derby.

Worse, if there is water on the road covering the chasms we call potholes, then you run the risk of doing significant damage to your car, and possibly risking your life.

I have always believed that our road construction practices are very poor, which is why the roads go bad so quickly. By comparison, look at the highways built by the French company Bouygues, and the Chinese; they stand up well to weather and heavy traffic. The others, not so much.

But why is this the case? Are we not learning from these people whose work speak volumes about what we are not doing right? Or is it something more sinister, something along the lines of contractors being allowed to do shoddy work, knowing that the shorter the road life, the more opportunities they get to dip their snouts into the public trough?

Whatever it is, it needs to change.

In these times of economic constraints, we need to get value for money. We can't keep worrying about the public debt when we keep wasting money on the sloppy work being done on the roads. As we try to get our debt down to free up cash for spending on social programmes and other initiatives essential to make Jamaica more productive, we need to make each dollar spent count.

As such, we need to fix our roads in such a manner that they can withstand a few days of rain. The roads have to be 'sturdy' and allow us to get value for our spending. When the roads are bad, it takes longer to get everywhere and that reduces our ability to be productive. It should not take an hour to drive somewhere you can walk to in 20 minutes. The less time people spend getting to work, the more time they can spend being productive.

There is also the cost of front-end parts and tyres destroyed by potholes that are as deep as swimming pools. People are already having a hard time to make ends meet, they shouldn't be forced to spend money replacing parts that on decent roads would last two to three times as long.

Doing a better job fixing and maintaining our roads saves money for everybody, and that can only be a good thing.


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