Senator Morris Asks for Patience as Road Works Continue in New Kingston

State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Senator Floyd Morris, has asked for public patience and understanding as the government undertakes road improvement works in New Kingston, as part of a strategic plan to create a friendlier environment for persons with disabilities.
Senator Morris conceded that while the works, which involve the improvement of pavements, may cause some level of inconvenience in the short term on completion, the facilities would be more user-friendly for persons with disabilities and the elderly.
“Some people might be concerned about the digging up of those sidewalks but they have to understand that it is a part of the government’s efforts to make the society more accessible for the disabled and the elderly,” he noted.
The works being done in New Kingston fall within the scope of the Friendly City Project, which was approved by Cabinet two years ago.
The project comprises two phases – an accessibility programme, which involves putting in the necessary infrastructure and services for the disabled and a public education campaign, to sensitize the society about the needs and issues that affect persons with disabilities.
The government has allotted some $15 million this financial year toward the project, with $10 million going to the accessibility programme and $5 million for the public education aspect.
Focus is being placed on the accessibility phase, and “this is where we will be providing ramps on sidewalks, making public sanitary facilities more accessible, and right now we have projects in Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Montego Bay and Kingston,” Senator Morris said.
With the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, the necessary access features are being put in at the island’s two international airports, and at Sabina Park and the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium, while a number of hotels are making their buildings user friendly.
Senator Morris noted that while the government was capitalizing on the staging of the CWC, to make sure that facilities were in place for visitors with disabilities, the initiative was not a World Cup project.
“It’s not a project for Cricket World Cup; it is a project that is going to be in Jamaica for a long time. We want to make sure that the entire society is accessible for our disabled community. The only thing is that we have used the event as a catalyst for driving this project and so after CWC is over, we will still be working to make these sidewalks more friendly for persons with disabilities,” he stated.
In the meanwhile, Senator Morris has urged the private sector to make their services and facilities more accessible to persons with disabilities and the elderly. .
“One of the things that I am imploring the private sector to do is to make sure that they join in with the initiative, by making their facilities more accessible, because they have clientele that have disabilities and clientele that are elderly,” he stated.
The Friendly City Project is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Partners involved in the initiative are: Ministries of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture; Housing, Transport, Water and Works; Local Government and the Environment; Jamaica Tourist Board; Tourism Enhancement Fund; National Works Agency; New Kingston Civic Association; and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.

JIS Social