A few months ago, I sat in the House of Assembly and listened to Members of Parliament on both sides of the political fence lament the sad truth about how some fly-by-night contractors end up having hefty contracts for public sector works. Whether or not that debate was intent on setting the bar higher and maintaining it, it seems, is still up in the air.
For nearly two months after the repair works were done on the sinkhole at Rodney Bay, there is still an outstanding issue of whether best practices and social conscience are selective for some. That an entity contracted to undertake rehabilitative works on that section of the road near J.Q. Rodney Ball Mall does not find it fitting to clean up after such a major undertaking begs the question: Are some contractors just in it for the money?
Like many people, I, too, am satisfied that much emphasis was paid in restoring that section of the busy highway to normalcy following the sudden sinkhole that caused traffic to be diverted for a few weeks. Ostensibly, the bridge itself seems a better reincarnation of its old self with even a better drainage system constructed. That sinkhole might have been a blessing in disguise.
But it remains to be seen just how effective such a drainage system can possibly be when a huge mass of cement and other materials left in the wake of the bridge’s restoration still sits in the gutter below right near the new culverts.
When I first saw the conspicuous eyesore over a month ago, I figured that someone had already penciled in the clean-up and would later get around to picking up the unsightly mess. Lo and behold, someone apparently forgot to do so. But after visiting the area last Tuesday and seeing the huge pile still brooding there, I figured someone needed a reminder. Even the bus drivers who park there agreed with me.
Especially since such an eyesore sits near a major thoroughfare, the propensity for the high number of eyes falling on it adds up to a major insult to taxpayers, especially when we all speak about the environmental vulnerabilities we face. We cannot be preaching to people that they need to keep their surroundings clean when public funds are being spent to do shoddy work. So, like I did a few months ago in Parliament, I again concur that all contractors given contracts to do public works must be professional and provide quality service.
Just imagine a major trough hitting us anytime soon and – God forbid – the drainage system under that bridge becoming compromised. The obvious finger-pointing would be at the Ministry of Infrastructure that would have done so much to bring relief to motorists and pedestrians following the road’s cave-in late last year. That is why some official from that ministry should have ensured that the project was really complete in every sense after the contractor would have said it was.
For an island that prides itself on its “Simply Beautiful” tagline, some of us really do that image a disservice by cutting corners to save effort and a dollar, even if it redounds to costing us more in the end. How expensive can it be to haul what seems to be less than half a ton of concrete debris away from a major waterway and prevent possible flooding?
With the intrusive Zika virus making the rounds throughout the region, one would think that cleaning up was the way to go at the moment. But with Saint Lucians and tourists alike having to cast their eyes on the potential breeding ground for mosquitoes and other vermin in the heart of the tourism belt one gets a different impression.
So just in case someone forgot to undertake their post-works cleanup under the new bridge at Rodney Bay, here’s an unsightly reminder that the work was not completed. Like many people, I would prefer to see water under the bridge instead of a huge pile of debris that speaks of shaky professionalism.
If you asked me, that debate about huge sums of money being paid by taxpayers in return for shoddy work needs another sitting in Parliament. All in favour, say “aye”.