Island Roads has come under criticism for carrying on with road works despite stricter guidelines on coronavirus.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced new measures on Monday, including travelling to and from work only ‘when absolutely necessary’.
However, concerned Island residents raised alarm about whether Island Roads staff should be working when a picture of a crew of 9 was pictured on social media, working at Hooke Hill in Freshwater with little space between them.
Government guidance does say those who work in transport are key workers and Island Roads said today it would continue to deliver improvement schemes.
But one of the men pictured said the team were not happy to be working on the footpath in Freshwater, which the team had made safe earlier in the day, and thought it was non-essential. He said:
“We were all a bit confused when we were told to keep working.
“Island Roads have basically turned round and said our lives are not worth as much and our family lives are nothing compared to getting money for the business.”
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said the teams would be more than happy to help people more in need, delivering food to people, instead of working on a pavement and hitting targets the company need to achieve.
Island Roads today said it had taken steps to comply with government advice — including stopping all non-essential face-to-face meetings and restricting access to its HQ on Daish Way, Newport — but the health and safety of its employees and their families is always at the heart of its business.
A spokesperson said:
“We have ensured all staff have been given the necessary advice and equipment they need to remain healthy and protected as we continue our work to ensure the highway network remains safe for all users.
“As government advice has hardened, we have continued to reconcile our duty to public health with the need to maintain a functioning, safe and free-flowing network, particularly so as we all become more reliant on the great work the NHS and emergency services are delivering.
“After careful consideration, we have chosen to continue delivering improvement schemes in line with government advice at the time to keep construction sites progressing where possible.
“We recognise the St Mary’s scheme is a major project that impacts on many people’s journeys every day — we are therefore keen to keep our commitment to delivering the improvements at the earliest possible date.
“In doing this, we have created layers of separation and distancing within our crews and aim to deploy our staff in teams of no more than two in most circumstances.
“We will minimise interaction with road users and residents and respectfully request the public also respect social distancing requirements from our crews.
“We have re-iterated advice about additional safe working practices required at this time to the staff who have been working at Hooke Hill and will further reinforce this in our morning briefings.”
The company also said it will continue to review its operations to ensure they are in line with the latest government advice.