I’ve been trying to think of places where human life is as cheap as in Saint Lucia. Several came to mind that I had never been to, or plan to visit any time soon: regions in deepest Africa; certain particularly deprived American cities; and then of course there was that mass grave generally referred to as the Middle East.
It had also occurred to me that in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and so on the shocking casualties may have less to do with callous disregard for human life than with the unending jihads.
Ironically, a large percentage of those eliminated in the US may also be classified as victims of war, albeit of a kind unrelated to religious notions and oil—the deadly cocktail that is Middle East politics. I actually read somewhere that more Americans are murdered on home ground each year than died in Iraq. Incredible yes, but food for thought nevertheless.
What’s altogether undeniable is that in the acknowledged home of the free even the avowedly Christian believe they have the constitutional right to liquidate one another, regardless of the contrary directives of the Holy Bible and the Koran.
Meanwhile, on this Rock of Sages it’s as if what least concerns successive administrations are the citizens they solemnly swore to serve and protect from all harm, man-made and otherwise. While our current prime minister relishes every opportunity to lecture us on our nation’s geography and its vulnerability to hurricanes, heavy rains and other forces of nature—seldom has he identified measures at least to mitigate the consequences.
Instead of crying over spilled mud, shouldn’t our ostensible guardians also be seen to be doing everything possible to ameliorate the effects of the predictable annual scourges on the helpless residents of Bexon, Fond St. Jacques and so on?
Last Christmas Eve’s rainstorm was further proof that when it comes to natural disasters the authorities are content merely to talk the talk, albeit after the fact. Our roads are obviously not sturdy enough to withstand the combined poundages of huge trucks transporting monster containers (a problem discussed as far back as the late 80s when John Compton was this country’s prime minister).
The fallout from the most recent act of God suggests our bridges are not reliably examined at time of construction, neither are they later monitored for accumulated debris and hairline cracks. Areas known to be especially prone to landslides are casually denuded of trees, for a variety of insane reasons.
As for our poorly lit busiest roads, the best we could do was to split them into lanes so narrow as to render them incapable of safely accommodating vehicles larger than the average family car, and especially hazardous during the slightest drizzle.
There has never been an investigation into the possible causes for the increasing number of road deaths. Why bother when it is so easy simply to blame them on untested “drunk drivers” exceeding unspecified speed limits?
Road kill is road kill, anyway. Besides, to cite local conventional wisdom: When you dead, you dead. Ain’t nothing anyone can do once your time has come—which is only half true: we could’ve done something about our demonstrably unreliable, under-financed and under-manned storm warning system. According to the 2012 annual NEMO report, the writing had been on the wall for some 20 years.
When was the last time the relevant authorities checked the road that caved in on the evening of December 24, and claimed the lives of two unsuspecting young men? We certainly can do something salutary about those damn road signs evidently erected by STEP geniuses with an obvious aversion to green grass but are unbothered by vision-obscuring tree branches along our roadways.
There had been several warnings and complaints, obviously directed at the wrong orifices, about the most recent Bois D’Orange disaster. Countless motorists headed north had driven by without noticing the tiny “no through road” sign on the left side of the road. After all, most of our vehicles are right-hand drives.
A motorist would have to be off his gourd to take his eyes off one of the island’s busiest motorways, at night especially, to read the unlit signs at the roadside. There’s a good reason why in more enlightened environs well-illuminated signs are positioned high above the road—clearly visible day and night, in good weather and bad.
And what about visiting motorists unable to read English? Or motorists who can read only Creole? (Conceivably, voters who understand only Creole are unlikely to be capable of reading other than Creole—or any other language, for that matter!) Isn’t there some way, other than a near unreadable road sign, to warn drivers against entering no-entry zones? Why couldn’t our buck-passing authorities simply have made it impossible for drivers to go past a certain point on the Bois d’Orange road—other than with a deadly container?
Dear reader, I invite you to examine our accompanying photograph, taken on Thursday morning. Now, say you were headed north after 10 pm. The vehicle at the far end of the road headed toward Castries would have its lights on, quite likely on full beam. What reason would you have for guessing it had just exited the Bois d’Orange gas station; that it had not come all the way from Cap Estate? Could it be this is what Bruce Sullivan believed—until he ran his vehicle into that immovable container up ahead?
What are your conclusions, upon learning that even after the fatal accident the authorities have seen no good reason to take such measures as might prevent a recurrence of what happened to the unsuspecting visitor en-route to his hotel after several hours of sightseeing in “Simply Beautiful Saint Lucia?”