CalMac decision has a sting in the tale
Sir, The sting in the CalMac tale is still a very long way off but, eventually, it will happen.
Meantime, however, CalMac has retained the privilege of serving our islands for the next eight years and, immediately, the do-gooders at Western Isles Council are asking the shipping company to relocate its administration out to the islands.
If only matters were as simple as that. The first and most serious aspect of the whole scenario is that the roads in the West Highlands and, in particular, in the isles, are not fit for purpose. The Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) unleashing an overspill of vehicles onto already struggling local single-track roads is a travesty.
For instance, in South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist, the dual road improvement programme that began in 1982/83 is still only approximately half done, 33 years later.
The rest of the islands, along with long stretches of West Highland roads, are also 40- odd years out of date and a massive roads project is of the essence.
I’m only wondering if the silent majority are thinking what I am. That is, with so many thousands of folk coming off ferries and onto single-track roads we, the residents, will be at least a day late and a dollar short in getting on with our own lives and/or forever be stuck in a passing place.
So CalMac, via the Scottish Gov- ernment, got the contract but – and it’s a very big but – where is the common sense? I’d say roads first and then, maybe, the gallivanting can start.
And here is something to think about: CalMac was first introduced as a social and lifeline service for the isles first and foremost. But today that is not the case.
The sting in the tale is that, eventually, the result of all this free-for-all and RET, apart from the fact that it’s not really for us islanders to begin with, is that it will cause the demise of the isles, their people and culture.
That is the price we are going to pay. We will have sold our souls. The service that was first of all intended for the islands and their indigenous folk will kill the very people it intended to help.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.