TOBAGO’S Windward Road is a scenic stretch that many associate with the beauty of the island. But on Monday, it turned into a setting befitting of a horror or a Mad Max movie. In an accident that boggles the mind, a cement truck crushed a station wagon and its occupants, taking precious human life with it. This incident demands the fullest investigation.
It was only a few weeks ago that we raised questions in this space over road safety standards in the wake of another deadly accident. That accident involved a PTSC bus, a rubbish truck, and a Blue Waters vehicle, and saw two senior citizens killed along Trinidad’s Uriah Butler Highway. Today, we are forced to return to this same issue.
We offer our deepest condolences to all of those affected by this tragedy. And we also commend all of the emergency responders and others who worked to offer assistance to the victims.
Preliminary reports do not suggest this was a case of an accident happening after a fete or Carnival-related event. However, questions must be asked about road conditions, the state of the drivers involved, the roadworthiness of the vehicles, and the moments that led up to the accident. Unless we treat with these matters seriously, deaths will continue to occur.
This is the second fatal road accident in Tobago in recent months. Two people died and a third, a two-year-old baby, was seriously injured in a head-on collision at Lowlands in the middle of an otherwise ordinary Friday afternoon last November.
“There was no brake impression at the scene,” said Divisional Fire Officer David Thomas then. “So, both or one of the drivers might have been distracted.”
It’s not clear what happened at Hope on Monday. But similar issues will have to be considered.
Additionally, authorities must do their best to review the conduct of the first responders. Understandably, given the nature of the wreck, it took a long time for some of the victims to be extricated. Yet, there are supposed to be tools and techniques in place to deal with such difficulties. Were adequate resources and expertise available?
Let us be clear. To ask these questions is not to point fingers or cast aspersions on anyone. It is simply to seek to examine how, if at all, we can become better at dealing with these extreme tragedies, which, quite clearly, are too frequent.
We hope all will exercise caution on the roads, particularly during this Carnival period. Monday’s accident is ironically a reminder of just how arbitrary these dangers can be. Which is why we must do our best to address standards. We have said it before. But we will say it again. Too many accidents are happening, too many people dying.