Highways Minister pushes for better public safety standards

  • Issues one-week deadline to officials to install roadwork signs islandwide

Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday (20) issued a one-week deadline to his top officials to install systems of road work signs in worksites across the island, according to a Highways Ministry press release.

Speaking to ministry officials via Zoom following the conclusion of his three-day tour, covering road and bridge construction sites in all provinces to ascertain their progress, the Minister had said that he was very concerned to see that standards of public safety had not been maintained to the letter.

“There were sites which did not properly display the men-at-work signs yards ahead. Some have put up temporary speed bumps while few have not. Some work sites had road construction traffic lights for controlling vehicles, but they are not properly handled. The constructors are under the obligation to take every precaution to prevent any inconvenience for road users. The roadwork signs and precautions should be adhered to their standards to prevent unfortunate accidents. They could save lives. We need development and the work carried out on time, but we should keep in mind that safety comes first,” the Minister had said.

“These regulatory sign systems such as the ‘men-at-work’ sign are warning signs. They indicate that road workers are in or near the roadway. Drivers could be alert and prepared to slow down or stop if they encounter this sign. It is very natural that people get in accidents because there are no work signs in proper order.”

Accordingly, Minister Fernando had instructed Ministry Secretary R.W.R. Pemasiri, Road Development Authority (RDA) Chairman Chaminda Athaluwage, RDA Director General Sardha Weerakoon, and provincial directors to review their roadwork sign systems in work sites islandwide and address the shortages immediately. The Minister had noted that he did not want to see the sorry state of affairs he had happened to witness during his last inspection tour.