Editorial: Public safety

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There are a lot of things that make us shake our heads, but when we see people taking actions that are against their best interests, we really wonder what they are thinking. We found ourselves in that state of mind when we heard of the removal and theft of traffic cones from government road project sites. The problem is so bad that the Ministry of Public Works has made a public appeal for people to stop from removing them from where they have been placed.
Any right thinking person can see the craziness of this situation. How can anyone think that it is a good idea, even for selfish, personal gain, to remove safety markers? One drive down Friar’s Hill Road at night and you will immediately see the extremely important role that the safety cones play. Not that anyone should need a demonstration to understand their importance. They are placed around large gaping holes in the roadway for the obvious reason that they are dangerous.  
Beyond that, the cones cost us money. All of us! There are no safety cone trees that bear varieties of brightly coloured cones in anyone’s backyard. The government reaches into the limited taxpayer funded coffers to buy safety cones for everyone’s protection; just to have some pinhead thief decide that the cones deployed around the safety hazard are his or hers to take. Forget the danger. Forget the possible loss of life. Forget the cost. In their minds, their selfish needs are more important. What kind of mentality is that to adopt as a way of life?
This reminds us of the thieves that raid the solar powered street lamps to acquire the batteries that power the lights at night. Who does that? Like the safety cones, the streetlights are there for reasons of safety. They are there to light the roadway to assist drivers and pedestrians. (That last sentence is for the uneducated thieves who believe that public safety plays second fiddle to their desires for a few ‘free’ batteries.)
We really do empathise with the Ministry because we are sure that most people have driven by the hazardous work areas on places like Friar’s Hill Road and given a sigh of relief thinking, at least they put out some cones to mark the spot. Now, imagine if you are not familiar with the road works and are driving home in the dark and the gigantic holes have no markings? It is a recipe for disaster.
God forbid that anyone gets hurt from this foolishness (our family friendly format prohibits us from using the language we would like to use). We know that if anyone were caught for stealing, after the fact, we would see a river of tears and hear all about how they didn’t mean it and they didn’t know the consequences of their actions. How could anyone not know the potential consequences? Rubbish!
Sorry, if this has turned into a bit of a rant, but we are of the opinion that there should be harsh penalties for those who interfere with public safety. Whether it is cones or batteries for streetlights, there should be stiff penalties for anyone caught stealing the items or in possession of these items.
So, we will like to join the Ministry in its appeal for people to stop messing with the safety cones. And to the thieves and mischief-makers, we would like to ask that you to take just a moment to reflect on your actions. They are selfish, and they are a danger to the wider community. Beyond that glossy generalisation, someone could get seriously hurt or worse, end up dead. That will leave a family to mourn, and with Antigua being as small as it is, that family could be yours. So, next time you are thinking of picking up a few safety cones or pilfering a battery from a lamppost, remember that the person you may actually end up hurting could be a friend or loved one. As selfish as you are, could your conscious handle that?

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