Member of Parliament for St James North Edmund Hinkson today criticized the Road Traffic Act (Amendment) Bill 2017, saying it was especially flawed in its provisions for the disabled.
Speaking in the House of Assembly during the second week of debate on the bill which was tabled by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley, the Opposition parliamentarian zeroed in on the proposed fine of $500 for persons who wrongfully park in parking spots reserved for people with disabilities.
Calling it “a joke”, Hinkson suggested that the fine should be “at least $1,000”, while stressing that “this bill has tremendous flaws in it”, while making it clear that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party did not accept “the concept that an amended Road Traffic Bill is better than no Road Traffic Bill at all”.
Hinkson, a director of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, further argued that even though provision had been made for a fine for those caught parking in spaces reserved for the disabled, no mention was made in the Bill of how evidence of violations would be obtained with a view to ensuring that it could be admissible in court.
“If, for example, someone takes a picture with their cell phone of an able-bodied person coming out of a vehicle which is parked in a parking spot reserved for a person with disabilities, is that going to be accepted in court? Are we going to give concessions for private organisations to employ security guards as is done in more developed countries to process and investigate this, and to be able to charge such persons who offend such a piece of legislation?”
He suggested that in addition to fines, offenders should be slapped with “mandatory sensitization sessions, or made to serve some cause for persons with disabilities”.
“Why haven’t we looked at these kinds of issues which consultation with an Opposition party could easily have brought?”
Noting that Barbados signed the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in June 2007, and ratified it in 2013, Hinkson complained that five years have passed and this island was yet to pass the required laws.
“Ratification mandates a country to pass into its internal law, in this case within two years . . . an Act for advancing the rights of persons with disabilities and enshrining the convention into the laws of Barbados,” he said.
He bemoaned the absence of special road signage for the disabled, as well as disability friendly pavements, adding that it was a “travesty” that only one bus owned by the Transport Board is used for persons with disabilities.