Letters to the Editor

Roadworks must consider the disabled

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

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Dear Editor,

In Brian Bonitto's article in the Jamaica Observer 'Barbican Blues' published on 1 June 2018, it was reported that executive director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities Dr Christine Hendricks had written to the National Works Agency (NWA) on the previous month “to express her organisation's concern that the needs of people with disabilities were not taken into consideration with regard to the Barbican Road Improvement Project”.

In response, NWA's Communication and Customer Services Manager Steven Shaw refuted their concerns, stating that “the disabled community's concerns were taken into consideration before construction” and invited the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities to meet with them on the matter.

I have been unable to find any reports of whether such a meeting took place and, if it did, whether a resolution was reached.

Nevertheless, these concerns remain relevant as roadworks, such as Constant Spring Road, seem to replicate the same design. Dr Hendricks was specifically concerned that:

(i) the median was a challenge to the visually-impaired, and

(ii) the lips of the sidewalks were too high.

Constant Spring's roadworks have not progressed to construction of the latter, yet her observation regarding the medians is still relevant.

Shaw had responded that crossing Barbican Road would be facilitated at signalised points. However, such points are few on Constant Spring Road, compared to Barbican Road, not to mention the greater number of schools, apartment blocks, public and retail establishments that are located along Constant Spring Road. So, it would seem the matter is even more critical there.

It was Dr Hendricks' expressed desire that corrective measures be taken, rather than have offending works continue and then have to knock it down. It would also be expected that NWA would see this as an opportunity to implement the 2014 Disabilities Act and display the Government's willingness and readiness to be compliant and, in so doing, provide the infrastructure needed for buildings along the roadway to become compliant.

Paul Hay

Kingston 8


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