Sun | Feb 16, 2020

Holey crap! - Blind pleas for safe sidewalks fall on deaf ears

Published:Wednesday | February 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
A blind man walking very close to a gaping hole on the sidewalk just across from the Ministry of Finance at National Heroes Circle.

Telling of the daily struggles they encounter while walking on Kingston and St Andrew sidewalks, members of the blind community are livid at slamming into utility poles and being chased into the streets by angry vendors afraid of having their goods stepped on.

"For me, it is uncomfortable," the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's research assistant, Shavane Daley, who is himself visually impaired, told The Gleaner yesterday.

"There is nowhere for blind persons to walk. Everybody is selling, and there are a lot of potholes, plus light poles. By the time you come out the way of a light post, you end up in a pothole, and by the time you get out of the pothole, that is when you buck up inna somebody selling. We need to know what is going on with the Disabilities Act because it seems to be moving at a slow pace. It is difficult for a blind man like me to walk."

According to Jason Ricketts, he and other blind persons really embark on a dangerous mission when they traverse urban sidewalks.

"People have to tell you that there is a raw wire hanging down, so we have to be careful," he said.

Entrepreneur Robert Williams expressed fear of falling into uncovered manholes.

"Some sidewalks have uncovered drains, so if you misstep left or right, you might fall into a drain or something like that. I fell in one before," Williams said.

According to communications manager at the National Works Agency, Stephen Shaw, the agency has received complaints about the predicament.

"When we do major road rehabilitative works, especially in urban areas, sidewalks are factored into the development.

"We recently spent some $10 million completing a programme of works in the Corporate Area, where the focus was on defective sidewalks along some critical corridors. More work needs to be done, and we are committed to completing same, within our budgetary allocations for such works," Shaw said.