Put money where mouth is on roadside growth
On Page 9 of the August 13 edition of The Royal Gazette, there was an article in which the Ministry of Public Works reminded owners of roadside properties that they are responsible for trimming back overhanging — over public roads — trees and hedges.
This is a policy that I support, given the fiscal constraints on all government departments and agencies.
It follows as a natural conclusion that the Government is therefore responsible for all roadside clearing of government-owned lands.
The last time I checked, the Bermuda Land Development Company was a government agency, more accurately termed a quango. The property owned by the BLDC borders most of St David's Road on one or both sides from the former No 1 Gate, almost out to the St David's Lighthouse.
The overgrowth on St David's Road is hard to miss and causes vehicles travelling in both directions to drive in the middle of the road to avoid having their vehicles scratched or worse.
One of the worst and most dangerous spots is the lower western end of Mission House Hill. First, there is an oleander hedge on the south side of the road, just east of the former No 2 Gate, which has never been trimmed since it was planted some years ago.
To miss the hedge, vehicles travelling west must follow the median yellow line, not a safe thing to do, especially when approaching the busy Southside junction.
Then drivers headed east come to the lower end of Mission House Hill and the very dangerous curve, which, at the best of times, blocks the view of drivers in both directions.
At present, with a total failure on the part of the BLDC to trim the roadside growth, that curve has become a very dangerous blind corner. Larger vehicles always drive down the middle of the road to navigate the curve; even smaller vehicles head for the middle of the road in an attempt to see what is coming around the corner in both directions.
Since it is at the lower end of a rather long and steep hill, many vehicles tend to speed down that hill. It is a fatal accident waiting to happen. The trees need to be cut back at least ten feet from the road on both sides, so that drivers can see what is ahead no matter what direction they are travelling. It will necessitate the removal of some full-size trees and overgrown hedges, but surely safety is the primary motivator.
It would also make it safer if strong, collision-proof fencing were to be erected along the northern perimeter of that dangerous bend ... the flimsy wire fencing was replaced this year — having been pulled down by a car accident several years ago — and, within a month of replacement, is once again damaged owing to a vehicle collision.
In fact, an even better solution would be to straighten the bend at the lower end of Mission House Hill. This would not require encroachment on any private land, as it is owned by the BLDC on both sides of the road, and there are no buildings in the way.
Travelling farther eastward, some of the roadside overgrowth has been cleared, especially where private property abuts the road; but much of it has not been cleared, and that is where the property is owned by the BLDC.
St David's Road is a narrow and twisty road for its entire length, and it is therefore incumbent upon the BLDC, especially given its government status, to get out there and trim the roadside overgrowth on a regular basis. If the BLDC claims budgetary constraints for its lack of landscaping, then perhaps the Government should consider handing over this property to an entity that can afford to maintain it — and, for that matter, that will further develop the property so that it becomes self-sustaining.
In summary, if private citizens are being asked to maintain the roadside growth where their property abuts public roads, then it is even more incumbent upon the Government, and all government entities such as the BLDC, to put its money where its mouth is and act upon its own advice.
Unfortunately, when the Government does not follow its own advice, the general public are totally unlikely to do so.
RESIDENT OF ST DAVID'S