They were supposed to be finished with the rehabilitation of the Friars Hill Road and the Sir George Walter Highway by Christmas of last year. That deadline was arbitrarily imposed by Minister of Works, Lennox Weston, who was voicing the frustration of all Antiguans and Barbudans with the inordinately slow pace at which the Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM) was going about its work. We cheered the good Minister Weston. After all, he was our knight-errant in shining armour. He was going to rescue us from the BHM dragon of malingering. He was going to slay the beast!
Unfortunately for us, turns out Weston’s chivalry was dead on arrival. The dragon breathed smoke down Minister Weston’s neck and he turned tail and ran for cover. But not before BHM showed him a scaly digit and told him to shove it up ‘where the sun don’t shine.’ Good grief!
The Bahamas Hot Mix told Weston, to his face, to go to hell, and that they would complete the roadworks in their own blessed time. In fact, they set their own date for completion at September 2020. Since then, we have not heard as much as a squeak or whimper from the good Minister on this road rehab matter. He’s been as silent as a dormouse. And we’ve been forced to grin and bear it. Of course, earlier this summer, BHM suddenly began talking about October as the new date for completion. We were not happy. BHM had worn on us; they’d outlived their welcome, but what could we do? Our champion had been given a good dose of shush!
It is now the middle of October, and the days hasten on, but we are not holding our breaths in anticipation. You see, we are all too familiar with BHM’s record of dilly-dallying. The fact of the matter is that there is much work to be done yet. For one thing, we find it utterly disgraceful that a road engineering crew seems to be at a loss as to how to put two cheap drainage pipes under the Sir George Walter Highway near Dee’s Service Station. That intersection has been an unconscionable mess for over two months, and still the fiddling continues while we burn with annoyance. Seems, Minister Weston is not the only one who has been given the finger by BHM, Nay, they have shoved a scaly digit up ours as well.
Then there is the absolutely horrid mess in which they have left the end of Friars Hill Road in St. John’s city. We’re referring to the area immediately west of Government House known as Cross and Church Street. We cannot, for the life of us, fathom why they would remove their heavy equipment instead of simply finishing that area that they disfigured so badly. And mind you, they spent a little more than two months playing ‘dolly house’ behind those closed roads there. It was an enormous inconvenience, and it is still not done. Then there are the street light poles that are right smack in the middle of Friars Hill Road and Dickenson Bay Street, and Friars Hill Road near Lion’s Den. We are not sure whether they will be putting two of their flimsy, cheap-looking roundabouts around the light poles, or whether they will remove them. In any event, out of an abundance of caution, they should place reflecting decals on the poles so as to warn road-users of their presence. They are a hazard, particularly at nights.
In the meantime, absolutely no one is impressed at the cut-rate roundabouts near the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECAB) on the Sir George Walter Highway, and the one on the Friars Hill Road going into Blue Waters and Cedar Grove. Even a child can see that something is not quite right with their placement. Plus, we certainly wished that they would have used some tasteful and attractive brick or stonework to create something that was aesthetically pleasing, but nay . . . . it was a ‘slap-dash, thank-you-ma’am’ sort of job. Quite disgraceful, and way beneath the dignity of a roundabout at the entrance to our airport, especially with the beautiful structures that are up there, courtesy R. Allen Stanford. Look at the lovely Stanford roundabout near Sticky Wicket! Hopefully, before this comedy of errors ends, they will come to their senses and construct decent roundabouts with flowers, a flagpole and attractive lantern lights with good signage on their approaches.
Not surprisingly, the intersection at Sprugoo’s has been closed for a few weeks, and the detour just west of the Tomlinson’s great house, near Tommy’s Garage, is an absolute disgrace. These geniuses knew that they were going to use that road as a detour out to the Potters main road, and they did not even have the foresight or enough care for road users to grade it a bit. It is a disgusting, messy, crater-filled nightmare. Chupz! But what else can we expect; we have become used to being underwhelmed and ignored.
About two weeks ago, we had a slightly heavy downpour of rain, and surprise, surprise, the area of Sir George Walter Highway between Sprugoo’s and the Amaryllis Hotel turned into a river. Same as before. After two years of feints and fakes, we are back to square-one on the Sir George Walter Highway. Flooding will continue to be a problem. And by the way, absolutely nothing was done about the mass of water that comes down from Carlisle Hill, just east of the sugar mill, whenever it rains. That area will be a swimming pool, same as before.
Interestingly, an attempt was made to do something about water accumulation on the Friars Hill Road when it rains. We note the hideous, cut-rate culverts that are already falling apart and are full of sludge and silt. It is shameful workmanship, to say the least. Sigh!
We certainly trust that the lighting on the roads will be reinstalled as a matter of urgency; that reflecting decals will be placed on the many aluminum/galvanized rails that have been installed; that the road markings will be painted with a more durable paint; and that decent road signs will be quickly put in place.
Clearly, we have been disappointed by the end-product on Friars Hill Road and the Sir George Walter Highway. Perhaps we were expecting too much. For example, we thought that there’d be more lanes, with wider roads. Maybe it is just us, but it appears to us as though the roads are actually narrower, in some places, than they were before. Sigh! It gives credence to the old saying that, “The road to perdition is paved with good intentions.”
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