Four road signs were put on a portion of the Ernest Dean Highway going towards Spring City on October 27 after local government was made aware of two vehicles with broken tires due to bad road conditions.
The Marsh Harbour / Spring City Town Committee put up four signs along the South-bound road to warn motorists of the particularly bad portion of the highway.
An additional sign, which was since removed by the Ministry of Works, stated “Caution, Government refuses to fix the road.”
Deputy Chairman Dexter Russell said that “washboard road” – as it has been dubbed by some – “has been in a dilapidated state for more than five years now and is in a dangerous state the last six months or so.”
He said “we feel it is negligence on Central Government’s part, people are having to switch sides on the road to get past the area or go over the rough spot and someone is going to get hurt or killed eventually if nothing is done.”
Mr. Russell said that the Committee has had a meeting recently with Prime Minister Dr. Minnis and Central and South Abaco MP James Albury and were told that there is nothing in the budget for that repair at this time.
He said that “the local Ministry of Works we know has no money, they have no tools and they have no cold patch making them unable to carry out any repair, and obviously “washboard road” needs more than just patching.”
He said that they have ordered a variety of street signs multiple times from Central Government and have yet to get them.
He noted that “Local Government’s budget has not been increased for 12 years and in fact has been cut, and the Committee and Council have to continue to pay out contracts at the same rate despite growth of the area, increased expenses and VAT.”
“The majority of the Committee’s budget goes to garbage collection and road verges and we really don’t have the money for repairs or maintenance,” he added.
He said the Committee also has great concern about the new Health Care facility operated properly as they have numerous reports of persons trying to get to the clinic after hours, the doctor won’t come, can’t wait in the waiting room until doctor arrives.
The airport is another major concern, even as Abaco is touted as the second busiest airport in The Bahamas, basic supplies, repairs and maintenance at the airport are being funded by Central Abaco District Council.
“The Committee is not asking the government for extra, we are asking for them to do what is right and equitable; we are on asking for the basic necessities,” Mr. Russell said.
Central / South Abaco MP James Albury responded regarding the road:
“I thought it would be appropriate at this time given the events of the past several days to release a public statement as it relates to the condition of the Ernest Dean Highway, particularly the stretch between the Marsh Harbour roundabout and Spring City, which is in a poor state of repair.
“I have gone on public record before both in the press, social media, and on the floor of the House of Assembly highlighting and stressing the poor condition of the road and communicating my constituents’ sense of urgency in having the matter addressed.
“The responsibility of a Member of Parliament is to advocate and fight for the betterment and rights of their constituency, and I can say honestly to myself and the public that I have spent every day since being elected doing that to the best of my ability.
“As it relates to the road in particular, I have been in continuous dialogue with the Minister of Works and other members of the government on how best to remedy this untenable situation. In recent weeks I have engaged in an independent project of scoping and pricing out the cost of a series of repairs that would greatly improve and restore the usability of the road. Now that it is completed and presented to the Minister responsible, the process has begun of dispatching Ministry engineers to review and act accordingly.
“In the meantime, I am committing my resources to mobilize both the labour and materials to fix the dangerous potholes in that area, which I expect to have completed by week’s end.
“I have never forgotten that I work for you, and you alone. I take my obligations seriously and personally. It pains me when my constituents believe otherwise, but it has been a reminder to me that I need to be more open and vocal with the public on my continuing efforts so that they may be aware of the work I am doing on their behalf.
“I remain grateful and humble as always to be able to serve my community, and look forward to sharing progress on this and other matters as we all move forward.