The lives of 300 children are being put at risk for the sake of £50, it has been claimed.
And departmental officials have been urged to ensure they are not found wanting and to take action now to avert tragedy.
The situation is the issue of gritting along the Glassdrummond Road, near Crossmaglen.
It has been claimed that it is not being salted during icy conditions, such as those witnessed over recent days.
It has been branded an “accident waiting to happen” by local Sinn Fein Councillor Terry Hearty.
“When you live and travel on the Glassdrummond Road you know of the dangers of frost,” he explained.
“The fine surface with area full of water springs – and the fact that the gullies have not been cleaned for over four years – mean that conditions along this road are an accident waiting to happen.”
Mr Hearty said the road was “like an ice rink” on Friday and, even though traffic was crawling along, vehicles were still sliding.
“It is estimated that 300 children a day are collected or travel along this road by bus or car to their respective local primaries or schools in Crossmaglen and Newry,” said the councillor.
“However winter and surface conditions mean there are now many mornings that the Translink bus cannot travel along the Glassdrummond Road due to safety concerns.
“I have been lobbying for years to have this road gritted and eventually the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Roads Service agreed to what they call ‘secondary gritting’. This happens when the main network is complete.
“However, most of the time this “secondary gritting” happens far too late and the children are in the school, when it is too late.
“I reckon it would cost between £40 to £50 to grit this road. Failure to do so is putting the lives of 300 children at risk.
“No cost can be put on a person’s life. There needs to be fresh thinking and gritting policy changes to reflect the fact that weather and climate conditions are changing.
“The current approach by Roads Service is outdated and is potentially endangering people.”
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