JIS News

Approximately $3.5 million has been earmarked for road safety improvements at the Crescent Primary School in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, as Government’s National Labour Day project for 2004.
The announcement was made at a press briefing hosted by Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson today (May 7) at the Knutsford Court Hotel.
Labour Day is being observed on Monday, May 24, under the theme: “Road Safety First.Avoid the Worst”.
“The focus on road safety has its genesis in grave national concerns for the most vulnerable road users in our country – school children,” she said.
Since the start of this year, the Road Safety Unit has recorded 91 traffic accidents and 98 fatalities, with eight of them being children.
According to the Minister, road traffic injuries have placed a tremendous toll on the local healthcare system, as indicated by the Jamaica Hospital Morbidity Database. In 2002, injuries due to road traffic accidents required over 25,000 days of care for those admitted to hospital, costing the government an estimated $518 million.
The Minster explained that it was against this background that the Crescent Primary School was chosen as the national project. She pointed out that the stretch of road leading up to the Bog Walk Gorge was extremely dangerous to pedestrians, particularly those who attempted to cross the road.
“It is a stretch of road on which motorists are inclined to speed although it is a built-up area with a school. Overtaking as we have observed creates another hazard for not just the drivers but for those attempting to cross,” she noted.
Crescent Primary was also selected based on the Ministry’s resolve to focus on the historical former capital city, which is of national significance to the country, a criterion that has long been a tradition in the selection of the National Labour Day Project.
The potential for a national focus and sustainability are other reasons that resulted in the selection of the school as this year’s focus.
“It is a focus that has to be sustained beyond Labour Day. As a result, we have developed a comprehensive public education campaign in tandem with the Road Safety Unit and the Jamaica Information Service in an effort to remind people how to use the roads,” she noted.
Activities to be undertaken at the school include:
The construction of two bus sheds on either side of the road in close proximity to the school;The construction of two lay-bys to facilitate taxis and other public transportation;The installation of two Driver Feedback Signs courtesy of the National Commercial Bank and British Caribbean Insurance Company Ltd.;The installation of flashing signs at the pedestrian crossing;The re-location and re-painting of the pedestrian crossing;Placement of signs and painting an unbroken white line on the road to make it into a ‘no overtaking’ zone;The build up of the sidewalk to separate the road from a parallel service area.
Other undertakings at Crescent Primary include the refurbishing of the existing bathroom block; the provision of temporary measures to stem flooding in the area; the clearing of drains and the beautification of the school and its surrounding area.
Also speaking at the briefing, Member of Parliament for Central St. Catherine, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange expressed her delight at the fact that the national project would be focused on Spanish Town, and in particular, Crescent Primary, emphasizing that it would be well appreciated among the populace, who often felt that they were being neglected.
She said the decision was timely, considering that St. Catherine is the fastest growing parish in the country, and as such, it consistently attracts much traffic congestion, often resulting in accidents.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to mobilize our communities in Spanish Town, the Parent Teachers’ Association to get involved with the national project, to be identified with it and to play our part in ensuring that we develop and encourage awareness for road safety,” she added.
Other projects across the island will also be focusing on the theme of road safety throughout the day.
Last year’s focus was centred on the development of Early Childhood Institutions in the country, with the Islington Basic School in St. Mary being selected as the national project. The school was duly recognized as the very first early childhood institution in the country.

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