Pothole dilemma

MTW official complains about lack of resources to effect needed road fixes

A senior official in the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) is defending his department in the face of persistent complaints about the state of the island’s roads.

In response to the raging debate about potholes, MTW’s Deputy Chief Technical Officer Phillip Tudor told a Barbados Association of Professional Engineers-organized meeting last night that the problem was one of a lack of money and ageing infrastructure and equipment.

MTW Engineer Phillip Tudor

“We are fighting with an ageing infrastructure. Most of the roads in Barbados are over 40 years old,” he said, while acknowledging that ten to 15 years after a road is laid there should be some form of “intervention”, ranging from simple maintenance to total reconstruction.

However, he reported that up until recently his department had been denied much funding and was left with no choice but to fix old roads with a few old pieces of equipment.

“About a couple weeks ago I was invited to sit on the panel and I said, ‘no’ because what I have to say, honestly I may lose my pick, but I decided to say it [anyways], because it needed to be said.

“We have been requesting more money to buy equipment . . . [but] it was only in this last Estimates that we were told go ahead, order the equipment. So now we can order equipment,” he said.

The BAPE meeting was the first in a series organized by the island’s engineers with the aim of getting input on the way forward in addressing the pervasive pothole problem.

At the end of the series, a panel of engineers will compile a report and submit recommendations to Government.

Tudor, who was a member of the audience said he was speaking reluctantly, but revealed that because Barbados’ old roads did not get the technically correct interventions, owing to a lack of funds, much money was spent on recurring patchwork.

“On a yearly basis we estimate that $3 million is spent on the roads, patching potholes alone,” he said, while making it clear that “we aren’t talking about building new roads or rehabilitation”.

The Government engineer said that based on a 1994 census there were approximately 1,950 roads in Barbados, with 59 per cent said to be in fair to good condition, and 41 per cent in poor to very poor condition.

“I would imagine that since 1994 things would have gotten worse,” Tudor added.

He said that age itself was major factor in the deterioration of roads because of the material applied.

“Something needs to be done that would allow the roads to last longer because after about ten to 15 years, [owing] to constant sunlight, the road starts to oxidize.

“So you might have a road that has never had, or never seen, any sort of traffic on it but within 15 years through sunlight the road oxidizes, cracking starts, water gets into the cracks. You would see whiteness along the cracks. That is the crush-run [stone] coming up through the cracks, and leaving a void underneath. That is the beginning of a pothole,” he explained while insisting that the MTW was ill equipped to deal with the situation.

“The Ministry is also faced not only with the fact of ageing infrastructure, but we have equipment problems. The last time we bought equipment or any sort of patching trucks was 20 years ago,” Tudor revealed, adding that “last time we checked, the Ministry they had three patching trucks to work the whole of Barbados”.

Tudor also suggested that a lack of equipment was the centre of another pet peeve of Bajans – cut grass and other debris left on the roadside for weeks that eventually clog up the drainage system.

“We recognize the fact that when the road [side] is weeded the stuff is left there because we have only four dump trucks to collect stuff for the whole of Barbados,” Tudor said.

“We in the Ministry we are anxious to work, anxious to give of our best, but we could only do so when we have the necessary resources,” he stressed.

29 Responses to Pothole dilemma

  1. Michael Crichlow
    Michael Crichlow January 18, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Stop all the talk and start fixing fuh god sake!

  2. Arlington Andrews Farley
    Arlington Andrews Farley January 18, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Throwing a bit of tarmac in the holes is not enough, use a compactor like the professional companies do to level the patched areas or better still just give the job to the people who know how to fix it properly. as this would save having to return to the same place over and over to patch the same hole.

  3. Gail Agard Wallace
    Gail Agard Wallace January 18, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Lol. But…. I think that was Haiti.

    • David Brathwaite January 19, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Haiti has some bad roads, but some excellent highways as well. Granted, you can drive along some of the best highways in the Caribbean and spot people fetching water from the river, or see five people riding on one motor cycle.

      We have this image that everything in Haiti is horrible, but the situation is mixed. And the people are warm friendly, and welcoming, just like anywhere else in the Caribbean and the food, music, art and culture are amazing.

  4. Gail Agard Wallace
    Gail Agard Wallace January 18, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    I’ve never seen (or heard ) so much talk……………

  5. John Everatt January 18, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    I think that the actions of MTW’s Deputy Chief Technical Officer Phillip Tudor took some guts. In today’s political climate any employee of a ministry who speaks out publicly criticizing that ministry can expect to be released from his job.

    What we all would like to know however is where did all the money go. The government spends millions on new office buildings for the MTW, BWA and all other types of state corporations yet does not appear to have the money to supply the upkeep on our roads, sewer systems, public transport vehicles, garbage collection equipment etc. The auditor general reports that many of these state corporations including the BRA have not kept proper accounting records therefore making it impossible to trace millions of dollars in missing funds. This is really a disaster for Barbados with perhaps a few people getting wealthy along the way.

  6. Betty charles January 18, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    So if you are not working what are you all getting paid to do for the past years..idlers

  7. Gregory January 19, 2018 at 2:39 am

    I am no expert on this topic. However, by pure observation the BWA is a major contributor to the bad order of our roads. If after their road works they were mandated to repair the roads ways at the end of the their excavation and not leave them to fixed at a later date. There are no standards for repair work to by the done by the leading authority for our roads. Just coming two weeks after and putting some marl fill compact and then cover with bitumen and stone mixed is not a proper way to repair. I have seen in the past major contractors like the the other utility companies have done excavations including the state own gas company. Did their digging and in a rush to get the roads repaved do a shoddy job in compacting the trenches and within a few weeks they fall well below the surface level. Causing an uneven road surface for motorists to travel and nothing is done to correct their mistake and no one is held accountable for it.. That to me is is where standards are required.
    For years we have been doing the same things and using the same materials to build and repair our roads. It is time that changes be made to the way things are done. We continue to use our coral stone as the base foundation. It is known and I believe it should be by the engineers in some of the companies that construct roads in Barbados the the stone and mark filled decomposes after the heavy loads on our roads. The break down of the stone to dust after a number of years is part of the problem. An example is the Horse Hill stretch of road which was done with volcanic rock from one of our nieghbouring islands has stood up well since it was done. I stand corrected on this and believe they could have been other roads done this way. It would reduce the amount of rutting being experienced in areas like the Mike and a Quarter junction damaged by the heavy equipment that take that curve on a daily bases. As one contributor stated a professional approach with standards is badly needed to save the roads.

  8. Nathaniel Samuels January 19, 2018 at 3:10 am

    It is not always the fault of the employees but a lack of equipment. It is good that someone would tell it like it is and therefore let us have a better understanding of the situation.
    Kudos to BAPE for putting on the meeting which I hope is the first of many. We need this kind of intervention and hopefully this Government or any other Government will take kindly to the suggestions that are forwarded and act on them once feasible and the resources are available.
    Everyone coming together to help Barbados is needed at this time.

  9. Tony Webster January 19, 2018 at 5:45 am

    This will separate the men from the boys (or idiots from geniuses):

    Q: when is it better to fix a pothole:
    a: When it is 3in. deep and 6in. long?
    b: when it is 1 ft. deep, and 6 ft long?

    Second chance at fame:
    Does road-making equipment work better, and last longer, when it is owned and operated by;
    a: Government
    b: private-sector entities?

  10. Honey Rose January 19, 2018 at 5:52 am

    What you need on the island is not only better road repair equipment but fewer cars and a government with the courage to make that happen. Don’t hold your breath.

  11. Greengiant January 19, 2018 at 5:54 am

    B A P E knows full well what the solutions are for a better quality and more durable road surface. There should be no problems with oxidization on the minor or residential roads if we concrete them. Then they’ll be easier to patch by utility companies and their sub contractors. That will leave the M T W to manage the Major
    Hiways and of course to rebuild major roads.

    They can contract the work of collecting the weeded grass and bush from beside the road, that will cost less than clearing wells and drains from the said grass. Ass Tudor pointed out the oxidization from the sun on the asphalt roads is a huge factor.

    Key mentioned point though. The census of 1994 showed 49% in poor condition. What happened between 1994 and the 2008 election? How many roads were rehabilitated when we had the money? Why have we not had trucks or equipment for the M T W in two decades?

    M T W have not been given equipment since 1997, the opposition party were in government between 1994 and 2008, there was a wash of foreign exchange in this country during that time and this critical department got equipment only once 1997.

    When I say that both these parties need to be overlooked at the polls their supporters are ready to accuse me of all sorts of things, but these facts speaks volumes against them both.

  12. jrsmith January 19, 2018 at 6:30 am

    The major problem is not potholes its the complete road infrastructure , which has been left for 4 decades as like the whole infrastructure of the island itself……….
    This problem the lack of technical and professional knowledge , politicians who is only looking after themselves, the problem not having educated bajans who is capable of design and developing what ever is required on our island…….
    For the potholes I saw men patching potholes with marl , this is how clever we are …………………………….

  13. Johnathan January 19, 2018 at 7:06 am

    Ask Freundel and Chris where the 23billion in tax collections gone. No buses,no r oaf equipment,no road repairs,no toilet paper in hospitals,no sanitation trucks, no hospital repairs,no new schools no new buses, no welfare benefits. Bajans must truly decide if they anr these theifing pigs around fgor 5 more years…

  14. hcalndre January 19, 2018 at 7:10 am

    The Opposition is responsible for all the problems the DLP has created, the Sun is now taking some blame too, I never heard the temps. in Barbados ever reach 100 degrees, there is no freezing weather, no snow, no salt before or after a snow fall so say what the real problems are, where has the money from the road tax gone that should be used to fix the roads and the signs etc.

  15. harry turnover January 19, 2018 at 7:21 am

    “The major problem is not potholes its the complete road infrastructure , which has been left for 4 decades as like the whole infrastructure of the island itself…”
    You say 4 decades I SAY 5 DECADES…should have been looked after just after INDEPENDENCE 1966.
    Tom Adams as soon as he took over conceptualized the ABC Highway which was VICIOUSLY OPPOSED by BARROW and DEM then,but STILL allowed Barrow and Cummins names ( initials ) to be added.
    Mia should therefore seek to correct that wrong and RENAME it the Tom Adams B C Highway.

  16. Carson C Cadogan January 19, 2018 at 7:59 am

    I am on your side.

    I have said time and again, that Govts. in Barbados like to preside over brand new infrastructure, but little if any money is set aside for necessary maintenance.

    If individuals ran their private homes the way public infrastructure is run then our homes would collapse around our ears.

  17. Kathie Daniel January 19, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Bravo, Philip! That took courage!
    Thank you for speaking out!
    I now ask the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport & Works WHERE the money has gone instead?
    The Consolidated Fund? That financial black hole?

  18. Mac January 19, 2018 at 9:41 am

    You are required to pay your road tax in full – not part payments and there are hundreds of vehicles on the road.

    If there is no money as being one of the main resources needed – where has all the money gone?!

  19. Alex Alleyne January 19, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Lack of MONEY……. the road fix/repair men told David Thompson it will cost the Tax payer ONE MILLION DOLLARS PER MILE to do the roads in BIM.

  20. Alex Alleyne January 19, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Most people over estimate the scope of Government.

  21. milli watt January 19, 2018 at 11:49 am

    THIS IS THE SAME DEPARTMENT THAT LEAVE PIECES OF EQUIPMENT TO RUST………pass their now and you will see the pieces of ole equipment he talking bout.

  22. Ossie Theophilus Moore January 19, 2018 at 11:51 am

    It now seems that local government was the checks and balances to some of these Mod Squad problems.

  23. Ossie Theophilus Moore January 19, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    What equiptment can we salvaged out of those trucks and how many operating hours are on the hour meters of the equiptment ? Stand by equiptment is a necessity in Highways and Roads construction. Three trucks for the entire island road surface network means past Ministers in that portfolio were not looking foward progressively. It’s about time we start doing that Barbados!! It’s Ok to award contracts but as a ministry Trans and Works better be ready and able in the process of rebuilding infrastructure!

  24. Bajangal January 19, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    All the equipment in the workshop smh , never see so much nonsense in life. Paying taxes left right and centre and this is all we can get for it? Excuses???


  25. jrsmith January 19, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Where has all the money gone, can it be trace to the tax havens or banks in the USA …….. As I always say we need now before the upcoming elections , an act of our Barbados Parliament to reign in these politicians who has destroyed our country, what they have done to us is out there for the wide world to see and people to hear … how far wrong is Donald Trump look at the south coast ……
    We want an act of parliament namely so (The Accountability Act 2018 ), this would give us something to hold over the heads of our politicians , the act would automatically come into play allowing the voters , who put these MPs in office using the same votes to remove them , if they are not working for the people of our island , the honest truth its not only in Barbados we need such an act ,this would go down very well in the region ……
    What scares me , if this Barbados government is return to office after the new elections …..What the hell would bajans do……..

  26. Belfast January 19, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Let’s take a leaf out of the BWA’s South Coast Sewerage fix book.
    Take all the heavy-duty vehicles off the road network. And hey!Presto! problem solved like how the effluent stop overflowing from manholes. Ya could learn something from a dummy or two!
    51 years after independence our ministry of roads and potholes, staffed by holders of degrees and doctorates, is no better than Highways and Transport (H&T) of yesteryear, staffed by 7th Standard Boys.

  27. Job January 19, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Let me add my two cents to the debate. There was no major outcry about the deplorable conditions of the roads generally prior to 2008. That seems to suggest that the equipment on hand was generally adequate.at that time. Govt does not buy vehicles to put into use 20 years later? ( to the best of my knowledge ).
    My second point is moot. Many employees but no equipment/supplies to work with? What should be done? Pay employees for doing nothing and the CBB continue to talk about under productivity as if no one knows the genesis?

  28. Cherylann February 1, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    And the freaking marl in potholes. Is the road itself made out of marl? Water dissolves limestone easily, have these fools not heard of sinkholes. That is why the fixed potholes with marl do not last long. Freaking idiots.


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