Farmers and locals offer to help with gritting
RESIDENTS and farmers are offering to help the nationwide gritting operation if they are given access to salt supplies.
As the National Roads Authority (NRA) insisted yesterday it would have adequate supplies for the current cold snap, farmers and local groups asked to be allowed to salt dangerous spots on local roads and estates.
With little prospect of non-national roads being gritted, Fine Gael also demanded that local people should be allowed to grit roads.
Tom Hayes, Fine Gael road safety spokesman, said: "Local authorities should provide stockpiles of grit and salt on non-national roads where there are dangerous corners or gradients which could then be spread by local residents or businesses."
Mr Hayes said this had been the situation in Northern Ireland for some time.
"The Road Safety Authority has warned of a sharp rise in pedestrian deaths this year, all the more reason to do whatever it takes to improve road conditions," he added.
The NRA said yesterday that it had 50,000 tonnes of salt on hand, 20,000 of which is locally stored.
Between 2,500-3,000 tonnes a day is being used. A major shipment is due next week, and another in two-and-a-half weeks' time.
The only problem is moving salt to affected areas. An NRA spokesman said: "We've got a good supply coming in but it's the logistics management of it.
"The big challenge is getting it to and from places. Some regions need more than others. There are daily updates from the local authorities and we can help direct the salt if needs be," he said.
"Every road in the country is not going to be salted. There will not be enough salt.
"We have 100,000km of road, of which 5,000km is national road, which carries 50pc of the traffic."
IFA president John Bryan said the heavy snowfall and freezing conditions in some parts of the country were causing problems for farmers.
He said the biggest difficulty was getting fodder to livestock and maintaining water pipes in working order.
The IFA president urged farmers to take extra care when out working, and also urged them to check on elderly neighbours living on their own.