Members of The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Barbados (MSSB) took the streets this morning to show Barbadians the difficulties they to experience when using sidewalks on the island’s roads.
Apart of the society’s week of activities, this morning the members walked from KFC to Bert’s Bar, Hastings, St Michael, showing that wheelchair users often cannot manoeuvre sidewalks when there are challenges, which include plant pots, garbage bins, benches, building debris, and large cracks and holes that would cause them to tip out of the chair.
MSSB’s immediate past president Boneta Phillips said that the walk was important to show that the sidewalks not only had an impact for disabled Barbadians themselves, but also for tourist.
“I have seen tourists trying to drive along and having real serious problems getting along the sidewalks and the roads in their wheelchairs. It’s a really scary situation and what we are trying to demonstrate is how scary it can be,” she explained.
Phillips called for properly thought-out ramps to be installed on the island’s roads.
Meanwhile, the society’s president Lasonta Corbin explained that the walk was a worthy demonstration and she too called on the Ministry of Transport and works to make the ramps safer for wheelchair users when they are building them.
“We are doing this to let people see that when we complain about the sidewalks and the ramps, we are not just fussing. We really would prefer to be on the sidewalks, but if the sidewalks have what I call a drop-off, you have difficulty getting up and down because when you bump down you can fall down on your wheelchair. We just wanted people to see that and be kind to us when they see us on the road,” Corbin noted.
“I wouldn’t like to have to survive over here in a wheelchair because you can’t get anywhere. As an able bodied, it’s bad but when you are in a wheelchair or you have any sort of disability its hell,” was the view of tourist Fran Higson.
Higson, a repeat visitor who participated in the walk said she believed that it was important for Government to spend money on the roads and pavements which she admitted would be costly but was essential. She suggested that when drivers were fined for speeding, the money should be used to improve the sidewalks
Angela Alleyne, a Barbadian who lives in Britain said that she was happy to have the opportunity to experience what she called a revealing walk.