We observe Labour Day this year by focusing on three critical areas – Climate Change, Road Safety and Food Security.
Jamaica is already being impacted by Climate Change. As I speak, we are experiencing the driest six (6) month period in Jamaica’s recorded meteorological history. Portland, which historically had heavy and consistent rainfall is currently suffering from one of its worst drought. The government has acted swiftly to provide immediate relief in trucking water and identifying new water sources. In addition, Jamaica is doing its part to mitigate the effects of Climate Change by planting 3 million trees across the country. Tree planting prevents soil erosion thereby reducing flooding and landslides, supports biodiversity, reduces temperatures, provides food, and captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Already we have planted over 2.5m trees and with your help and your labour we can achieve the three million target by September 2023. While the planting of these trees will not immediately ease drought conditions for those who are currently affected, our country will grow more resilient to droughts in the future. PICKUP-It is said that a “Society grows great when its elders plant trees whose shade they know they may never sit in.” I, therefore, encourage all Jamaicans to continue planting trees on Labour Day 2023 and throughout the year.
Likewise, safe road use is not only for Labour Day but should become a way of life for all of us. Your government has adopted a safe systems approach to sustainably reducing crashes, injuries and loss of life on our roads. We are designing all our new roadways with safety in mind at the start, including the installation of jersey barriers and other rail systems, traffic calming measures, proper lighting, signage, signals, cameras and other sensors. Safe road designs and improved road conditions will go a long way to reduce the fatalities in the long run.
We have also modernized our laws regarding road usage and have stepped up our enforcement efforts. As of May 15, we have had One Hundred and Fifty-Five (155) road fatalities. The top three categories are –
- Motorcyclists – Forty-Five (45) fatalities
- Pedestrians – Thirty-Nine (39) fatalities and,
- Private Motor Vehicle drivers – Twenty-Two (22) fatalities.
Unfortunately we lost nineteen (19) children to road crashes in 2022 and sadly, so far this year, we have lost five (5) children.
Since February 2023, when the new Road Traffic Regulations came into effect, we have issued 129,739 traffic tickets.Download Full Speech