Case in point: The construction on Smith Road, which has clogged a vital artery to and from the concentration of schools in George Town, resulting in enigmatic detours, frustrated motorists and queues of cars that are even longer than usual.
The purpose of this editorial is not to complain about traffic congestion, or the inevitable, though irritating, consequences of major roadwork. The widening of Smith Road is long overdue and sorely needed. When finished, it will be a boon to commuters and parents, and will also facilitate the valiant efforts of Grand Cayman’s ambulance crews as they race to and from the nearby Cayman Islands Hospital.
No, our issue is not with the work being done on Smith Road, but with its timing. Obstructing a crucial corridor linking schools and town is one thing — doing that during the beginning of the school year is another. And the Smith Road project is expected to continue through September and October … though hopefully officials are correct in their expectations that problems will lessen as the work moves to the west.
While roads officials may protest about land acquisitions, utility relocations and other unforeseen circumstances setting back schedules, from our view in the bleachers, we observe a situation that is the result of an absence of urgency.
Back in mid-March, nearly six months ago, the Compass reported on the National Roads Authority’s plans to widen, first, Godfrey Nixon Way and, then, Smith Road. At the time, NRA director Paul Parchment said work on Godfrey Nixon Way would begin the week of March 23, and work on Smith Road would start in early April.
The widening of Godfrey Nixon Way didn’t start until the week of April 6, three weeks after Mr. Parchment’s initial prediction. Heavy precipitation and a collapsed manhole delayed completion of the Godfrey Nixon Way widening (another much-needed project that, by the way, is now functioning quite well) until late May.
The roadwork on Smith Road, then, didn’t begin in earnest until early July. If it had begun in early April as originally intended, then a four-month time line would have meant the widening would have been completed sometime in August, before the start of the school year. And instead of mornings of moaning about wasted fuel, squandered time and an accumulation of tardy slips, people in Cayman would be offering praise and applause about a job well done, and well-timed.
The government’s lackadaisical approach to road construction is indicative of Cayman’s approach to many things, in too many instances — in the private sector as well as the public sector.
Don’t get us wrong, we here at the Compass love being on “island time” as much as the next person. That phrase, however, connotes leisure and freedom from stress; being too slow in the conduct of business, execution of projects and provision of services has the opposite effects.
Think about that the next time you are delayed by someone else’s inertia. Where would you rather be spending those moments: ensconced in your car, waiting in line, on hold on the phone — or lying in a hammock?