Friday, October 22, 2010

Driving Me Crazy!

Sometime in August, I 'bought' a car for the first time in my life. A nice car. Nice enough that I have been allowed into VIP parking a time or two with nothing but a smile and a request.  The car purrs when the accelerator is engaged, leaving those around me in my dust ( i choose my targets  I also get a lot more respect on the road.  Taxi drivers who used to dare me to continue driving while heading directly at me, now stop, swing back into their lane, or don't bother to come at all.  Life on the road WAS good.

See this all changed about three weeks ago.  Three weeks ago, the rains came.  The meteorological service advised that there would be some rain and possible flash floods. Their warning so subdued that as usual, we all ignore them. It had been raining that entire week; everyday there would be showers of blessing leading up to the weekend, when it rained a little harder and for a little longer; by Sunday the rain was continuous and was steady right into Monday.  The system that was to later become Thunder Storm Nicole was upon us.  In true Jamaican tradition the roads were chaotic as we ALL headed out to our respective jobs. (Did I hear some laughter here?). 

 Monday night was when things got really chaotic, bridges were falling all over the Island (our old infrastructure are well past their design life), gullies were overflowing their banks, taking informal abodes with them, some with people still inside.  People died.  It got worse on Tuesday and this night was when the retaining walls fell; large walls, small walls, gully walls, they were dropping like stones and again, people died.  In total, it was reported that eight persons lost their lives and my heart goes out to all their families.

Jamaicans as a whole, lost our roads. Main roads, arterial roads, minor roads, roads that weren't even roads before.  ALL GONE.  Potholes galore.  Driving on the streets of Kingston is like an off road trek with hazards thrown at you from all angles.  You not only have to look out for the tire bursting, rim bending, car swallowing cavities, but u also have to look out for the taxi dude or the nice old (wo)man who is on your side of the road trying to get away from the sink holes that may or may not have just developed (in front their very eyes). 

To exacerbate matters, the National Water Commission (NWC) had just embarked on a program of sewer pipe installation in Kingston, generally down the centre of existing roads.  Trenches were outlined beautifully in yellow, then excavated, pipes installed and obviously haphazardly refilled and covered with black topping.  The resulting damage produces holes (i can't even call it potholes because they are something entirely different) large enough to swallow entire cars. A number of roads in the corporate area look like the picture below of Barbican Road.

It is also apparent that most of the gaping holes within what was once our streets are forming in trenches that were dug by some utility or cable company.  It thus suggests that any part of these trenches can fail at any given moment swallowing your vehicle whole.  

I don't know if you are scared, but i certainly am.


Anonymous said...

Cuzs, you are waxing like Professor Rex...This piece is not just entertaining but also very stimulating.
Thanks for sharing!!

owen said...

So what happened to your car?

Kara - Jamaican Woman said...

@Owen...nutten...driving is just not fun anymore :)

J.D said...

drive on the "right" side of the street...*ducks and hide*

the million $ question is how will the poor infrastructure be addressed?

take that pic of barbican will that be fixed - with a bandaid till the next rains come? or are there plans of doing a more lasting fix? and if so, why was a lasting fix not the initial plan?

whoever did that job, should be spanked with many stripes

Kara - Jamaican Woman said...

bandaid it is...NWA were this week aggressively applying the "fix", while i am appreciative i know it will only last until the next downpour!

Execumama said...

Wow! I feel you on this one. We were in JA for about 5 weeks in October/November and it felt like we were in a video game the way we had to dip and dive around potholes the size of the doggone car! It's insane that there doesn't seem to be a plan in place for long-term solutions to the road issue.

JPF said...

I remember this, can't believe it was suct a long time ago... time flies.

I also damaged my suspetion in a pothole. Called the road works department to find out where to send my invoice. Sent them email along with a photo of the hole. Within 24 hours every hole along Liguanea Lane was repaired, but no response to my invoice.