Des­per­ate res­i­dent asks: Don’t Bexon lives mat­ter?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Toni Ni­cholas

On Mon­day I was dis­cussing with a friend the car­nage on our roads. I sug­gested that the author­i­ties seemed more in­ter­ested in in­creas­ing li­cens­ing and mo­tor ve­hi­cle fees as a means of rais­ing more gov­ern­ment rev­enue. In the mean­time the ‘road kill’ car­ries on, unchecked. Our dis­cus­sion nat­u­rally shifted quickly to the Bexon High­way that has seen more than a few deadly col­li­sions. I of­fered an ad­mit­tedly sick joke: “Maybe money to build the high­way came from the devil—and now he is claim­ing souls as pay­ment for the debt.”

On Tues­day, as I re­laxed in front of my TV, my friend What­sapp-ed me. “You watch­ing the news?” I said I was. Ac­tu­ally, I was watch­ing a sob­bing taxi driver whose ve­hi­cle had mowed down an in­fant on the Bexon high­way hours ear­lier.

One week into a new school term, that is to say, in Jan­uary of this year, four peo­ple in­clud­ing a busi­ness­woman and her grand­sons per­ished on the Bexon high­way af­ter their truck ran off the road and crashed into a util­ity pole. Dead at the scene were the driver, 54-year-old Thomas Arthur, his girl­friend, 58-year-old Mar­gre­tia Sarah An­toine and An­toine’s grand­son, six-year-old David Agard. An­toine’s other grand­son, fouryear-old Ben­jamin Agard, later suc­cumbed to his in­juries at hos­pi­tal.

In May a young man rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle col­lided with a pick-up truck on the same road and died. The road, ac­cord­ing to res­i­dents and eye­wit­nesses, has been the site of count­less ve­hic­u­lar ac­ci­dents that have left per­sons se­ri­ously in­jured at the very least. Res­i­dents say count­less un­re­ported ac­ci­dents oc­cur on the road; that only the dead­li­est make the news.

Just last month the high­way again grabbed public at­ten­tion when two ve­hi­cles—a dump truck and a car—col­lided, leav­ing sev­eral per­sons se­ri­ously in­jured. And now, fol­low­ing Tues­day’s fa­tal ac­ci­dent that took the life of three-year-old Kronus Deleon, Bexon res­i­dents are say­ing enough is enough.

The STAR has since learned that Deleon’s mother, who re­cently had a baby, had al­lowed her ten-year-old daugh­ter to pick up the three­year-old from school. When the bus ar­rived at the stop, the older sib­ling pro­ceeded to hand the driver EC$20, at which point both the driver and girl were dis­tracted.

At the time, the mother was wait­ing on the op­po­site side of the road with the in­ten­tion of cross­ing over to greet her chil­dren but the three-year-old ran across to meet her. It was at that point tragedy struck: the taxi driver, blind-sided by the parked school bus, struck Kronus.

Since then there have been the usual calls for pre­ven­tive mea­sures to be taken. Pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Public Trans­porta­tion, God­frey Fer­di­nand, has called for the is­sue to be taken more se­ri­ously. Fer­di­nand has sug­gested the gov­ern­ment cre­ate con­trol bar­ri­ers along the high­way to force in­di­vid­u­als to use a pedes­trian cross­ing.

He pointed to the model used in Rod­ney Bay where, fol­low­ing a fa­tal ac­ci­dent near the en­trance to the Ma­rina, the SLHTA con­trib­uted funds for the con­struc­tion of speed bumps, guard rails and a pedes­trian cross­ing.

“But what about us?” asked Rose­mary, a Bexon res­i­dent. “Don’t Bexon lives mat­ter? Why is it tak­ing so long for the author­i­ties to im­ple­ment some­thing on the Bexon High­way that would re­duce the num­ber of fa­tal and other ac­ci­dents?” A num­ber of res­i­dents of Bexon say they plan to pe­ti­tion the gov­ern­ment and their area’s par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive Guy Joseph.

Of­fi­cers from the traf­fic depart­ment of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force (RSLPF) say they have made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions to the Min­istry of In­fra­struc­ture with re­gard to the Bexon High­way. Alas to no avail. Kronus Deleon’s fa­ther is a mem­ber of RSLPF, at­tached to the SSU!

The deadly Bexon High­way.

Kronus Deleon

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