No crossing the line in the road

It was a few months ago that our good Minister of Works, the Honourable Lennox Weston, made like the Sheriff of Dodge City and drew a line in the road. We’re talking about that glorious day in June of this year when Sherriff Weston placed both hands akimbo on his hips and told Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), the malingering company that was somehow awarded contract for the Road Rehabilitation Project here in Antigua and the new Airport project in Barbuda, “Lookie here pardner, dis town ain’t big enough fer da two of us. You will finish the blessed roads by Christmas, or git goin!”

At that time, we cheered the good Minister cum Sheriff. After all, he was giving voice to our frustration and seething anger at the massive mess that had been created, and the apparent disrespect that BHM was dishing out to longsuffering road users, homeowners and businesses.

To be certain, at that time, nobody but the good Minister thought that BHM could possibly complete the project satisfactorily by December 2019. As a matter of fact, he naively said as much, especially when exclaiming how the Sir George Walter Highway already has a solid base and that all that was required was the repaving. 

Of course, in that rosy-tinted summation, not a word was mentioned of the guard rails, the bus shelters, the lane markings, the head walls, the street signs and all the other bells and whistles that were so enticingly sold to the people of our fair State. This seeming acquiescence to BHM half-measures on the part of the good Minister did not sit well with many Antiguans and Barbudans, because we had certainly bargained for a whole lot more than that. And we certainly did not put up with the inordinate aggravation and inconvenience over a period of two long arduous years to settle for a repaved road akin to a repaved road in Point or Grays Farm. No siree!

So it really came as no surprise to anyone when BHM announced earlier this week that the project will be completed by September of 2020. In other words, another whole year of this folly! Lord, give us the patience of Job, because we’re certainly going to need it! Especially with the head-scratching plans to put five roundabouts on the two roadways. The value of those roundabouts escape us, but what do we know. Those geniuses who screwed up the airport project in Barbuda, and used every lame excuse in the book to justify their bewildering delays, know a great deal more than we do. Look, not even schoolchildren given to trifling “The-dog-ate-my-homework” excuses would proffer the pathetic ones that we heard from this company – the September rains last year, a lack of aggregates, the APUA took too long with their pipe-laying initiative and other such blather.

Meanwhile, our ‘set-em-straight’ Sheriff is left with much ‘all-in’ on his face, and we the traumatised road users will have to endure the nightmare of Friars Hill Road and Sir George Walter Highway for another long painful year. Needless to say, we are not happy campers! After all, our spirits lifted considerably when the good Sheriff delivered his December ultimatum to BHM, and even though we knew that we would be getting a six for a nine, we began counting down the days to Christmas. Alas, seems instead of seeing the last of BHM – a blessed Christmas gift, we will be getting a lump of ‘Barber Green.’ Santa will not be kind!

Of course, many are wondering why the good Minister of Works drew that December line in the asphalt? Did he really have no say over the completion date? Was it all bluster? And was there an element of disrespect meted out to Minister Weston by BHM, in that, for all intents and purposes, they seemed really to have ignored his December deadline by not bringing to bear more manpower and equipment? Moreover, we find it curious that the good minister seemed to have been left out of the loop with this week’s pretentious, ‘happy-talk’ announcement of the September 2020 completion date. Sigh!

We trust that the straight-shooting Weston will continue to stand up for us and not allow his line on Friars Hill Road to be crossed. After all, history tells us what happens when tough-talking men and women draw lines, and do nothing when they are crossed.