ON THE A70 there are no roadworks, but there IS a set of traffic lights so you don’t collide with the coned-off generator, the sole purpose of which is to work the traffic lights… What’s THAT all about?
There is hardly a corner of West Lothian that has escaped the misery of roadworks in recent months. It seems that a rash of signs warning of major road digging activity has broken out across the county. Oh, and don’t try getting creative by seeking out a diversion. It will only lead to a big red “Road Closed” sign on account of some hi-viz jacketed worker and his four supervisors repairing a bridge. A task that’s going to take them till Christmas – next year.
Okay, so repairing the roads is a necessary evil. But how come some of these roadworks are in place for such an extensive period of time? I mean, it’s not unusual to see signs informing us that the work will take 26 weeks. 26 weeks! That’s half a year. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built in less time than that.
Actually, I have a theory about how they did it. One word – whips.
Had those who constructed the pyramids been paid by the hour, as are our road workers, that particular Wonder of the World would still be festooned with barrier tape, scaffolding, cigarette butts and discarded sandwich packaging.
Instead of knuckling down and getting on with the construction, the Egyptians would be wandering off every hour, on the hour, for tea and biscuits. Rather than shovelling sand and heaving stone blocks they would be searching out cafes that offered fried eggs and bacon for brunch. They would be happy in the knowledge that the longer they took, the more money they would make.
And consider this: in May of this year one in four – that’s 25% – maintenance workers employed by BEAR, who are responsible for the M8 that runs right through the heart of West Lothian, failed a random drugs test. It explains a lot.
Where it takes months (and the present disaster in West Calder Main Street is a prime example of this) to dig a trench and lay a pipe less than a mile long, the Tommys of World War One could excavate a maze of trenches, complete with bolt holes, duckboards and sandbag dykes within the hour. It’s amazing how machineguns and shellfire concentrates the mind.
In fact, the world has seen incredible feats of engineering throughout two world wars and beyond: bridges constructed, tracks and roads laid, airfields built – all in less time than it takes to yell “Incoming!”
The reason? Those amazing sappers and engineers were not being paid by the hour. They didn’t have the luxury of increasing their reward by working at a slower pace and being generally inefficient. So, if we want the burden of all-year-round roadworks removed from our county, we have a solution: replace the hourly rate with whips and machine guns.
I, for one, am all for it.