IT seems a long time ago when we were assured that the roadworks on Village Road would be completed in time for the start of the school term. Perhaps we should have asked which school term.
The September goal drifted. Then the November one. Then press secretary Clint Watson popped up to say that work would be completed by December 12. That never happened.
In fact, he was quickly contradicted by Minister of Works and Utilities Alfred Sears, who said: “The paving of the road will begin in the first week of December, near the end of the first week of December, and it will be in three phases. So, those phases of paving will take us through December, and it is expected by the end of December 2022, they will be substantially completed.”
Again, that deadline came and went – and there’s still no sign of the paving beginning.
Driving along the road yesterday, there were still sections of the road being dug up, along with new diversion barriers put up for long-suffering motorists to abide by.
Parents doing the daily drop-off at Queen’s College have long been shrugging in frustration at the bumpy journey to school and back, but their dismay is as nothing to the businesses along the road who have seen footfall drop away as people avoid Village Road “like the plague”, as one owner put it.
Mr Sears returned with another prediction that the roadworks would be delayed until the first week in January, but that’s another deadline that whooshed by.
Part of the problem was that the plans took a change after the work had begun – with a roundabout added outside Queen’s College and the Bahamas National Trust Retreat.
That roundabout is marked out, but still some way from complete.
In yesterday’s Tribune, business owners said they were still awaiting “follow through” after a meeting with government to discuss relief and compensation.
Noelle Nicolls, vice-president of the Four Walls Squash and Social Club and a former Tribune reporter, said that businesses were encouraged, but tellingly noted that “businesses continue to look for a definitive timeline on the road completion”.
She said businesses were “encouraged by the… government’s openness to consider our proposal” – and indeed the government should show consideration for businesses who were told one thing when it came to how long they should expect to put up with roadworks, but have had to put up with another.
The squash club’s president, Michael Fields, said in a letter to government: “Between the open trenches, unpaved roads, detours, strained traffic management and dust, customers are avoiding Village Road like a plague. The original target for completion, which was September 2022, and even the revised date of November, would have allowed local businesses to benefit from the holiday bump that most rely upon.
“Each missed deadline has serious implications for businesses, and there is little belief that the latest end-of-month forecast for completion will be met given the lack of clear communication and the conditions on the ground. With no clear end in sight, our reserves are depleted, our business planning efforts have become futile, and we continue to experience tremendous losses.”
It is beyond ridiculous that businesses, residents, parents, teachers, schoolchildren and more should have to put up with constant delay after delay with no explanation from government.
What is the latest deadline? Who knows? Government officials seem to have given up trying to tell us.
As for whether there are penalty clauses on the contract for construction for missing deadlines, that is a mystery the government has never spoken to at all.
Mr Sears needs to give a clear answer – and he needs to do it now.
Flyingfish 2 months ago
Yes, Village Road is indeed a plague :)
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