Published: Monday | July 23, 2012 - Jamaica Gleaner
can't recall hearing a clear and forthright explanation as to why motorists are
paying double and compounded taxes on fuel specifically levied to fix our
horrible roads, yet very few repairs have taken place. Many roads are in a
constant state of disrepair and are in need of major resurfacing - from the
substrata to the blacktop.
Scores of communities have grown tired of negotiating roads that
are damaging the suspension systems of their vehicles. Having paid their
property taxes and fuel taxes, citizens still find themselves beseeching the
Government to repair the macerated roads.
They are given non-committal, half-hearted promises and told
that they are on long waiting lists. They are sometimes told that the
authorities will assist them in securing discounted road repairs (that can run
into hundreds of thousands of dollars). After waiting in vain for the
authorities to do their duty, some are forced to sacrifice further and patch
the roads with cement - because asphalt is prohibitively expensive.
Members of the NCU IT Team pose with a representative from the World Bank
Dangerous potholes on major thoroughfares interfere with the
free flow of traffic and are hazardous to the motoring public. Many residential
and some arterial roads are in such a disgraceful state that pickups, with
their firm and sturdy suspensions, are the only sensible and cost-effective
choice of transportation but the authorities have very unwisely and
counterproductively also levied (apparently punitive) taxes against them.
Our potholes are so notorious that a bright and innovative group
of four Northern Caribbean University students won the grand prize in this
year's Digital Jam 2.0 Mobile App competition with a BlackBerry app (the
Pothole Positioning System PPS) that can detect jerks caused by potholes in the
road, prompt the driver to record the severity and location of the pothole and
upload the information to a Global Positioning Satellite so that other
BlackBerry users can track the potholes to reduce the number of damage,
accidents and even deaths that they cause on our roads. The app will eventually
be used by any other smartphone.
Bad enough that we must suffer the inconvenience, expense and
danger of so many potholes in 21st-century Jamaica, but this is the 50th year
of our Independence. If we judge from our roads, many places look as if we are
totally devoid of any civil organization or governmental control. In fact, many
residential roads look as if a major natural disaster had recently occurred.
Aside from the unfairness, the reticence from the authorities,
the expensive and repeated damage to vehicles, and danger to lives when our
roads are left in such a horrendous state of disrepair, it puts road users at
risk for ambush and makes people feel as if their Government cares very little