Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today promised the disabled community that the amended Road Traffic Act would go before Parliament shortly.
Stuart today met a delegation from the Barbados Council For The Disabled (BCD) at his office at Government Headquarters, where BCD President Maria Holder-Small presented him with a petition containing 12,436 signatures.
The organization started the petition in an effort to press for the end to illegal parking in spaces assigned to the disabled community.
“The Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley has indicated to me and also to the Cabinet that we are nearly there in bringing the legislation, and we should have it before Parliament very shortly. I will this morning communicate to the Cabinet your concerns and in the very near future you will hear from us regarding this legislative matter,” Stuart pledged.
The Prime Minister pointed out that successive Governments had worked on modifying the legislation but that other issues arose whenever they thought they had it right.
“There has been no insensitivity on the part of Government, we are just trying to get all the issues right,” he stressed. He also observed that over the past 50 years huge strides had been made in sensitizing people to the needs and the rights of persons with disabilities.
However, he noted that there was work to be done in this respect and urged the Council to continue its “great work” and to sensitize people to the multiple concerns of the community. Meanwhile, Holder-Small told the Prime Minister that members of the community sometimes felt neglected.
She said the organization wanted Government to amend the Road Traffic Act to stop the indiscriminate parking by the general public in spaces allocated for persons with disabilities.
Before leading her team to the meeting, Holder-Small said the Council had been informed that the draft amendments were finalized over two years ago but were occupying a cozy spot on the desk or in a drawer of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel’s office.
“This is unacceptable. We are human beings with the same needs as everyone else. Why should we have to suffer for simply wanting to park in a space assigned for persons with disabilities? It is not a privilege being offered, it is just a matter of providing the same services to meet a variety of users,” she said.
The BCD president noted that Barbados signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 19 July 2007 and ratified the convention on 27 February 2013, signifying its commitment to ensure that the rights of all persons with disabilities were adhered to and recognized by law.
“This means going forward we are calling on the Government of Barbados . . . to respect our rights as citizens. I would like to encourage all service providers to seek the requirements necessary at the very least begin the implantation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of public facilities that offer services,” the president added. (BGIS)