Fri | Jun 18, 2021

PNP calls for improved access for disabled at municipal buildings

Published:Friday | January 22, 2021 | 2:09 PM
Senator Lambert Brown, Opposition spokesperson on the Public Service (file photo)

Senator Lambert Brown, the Opposition spokesperson on the Public Service, has called on the municipal authorities in Westmoreland and Portmore to take remedial action to ensure that each municipal building is fully accessible to persons with disabilities when complete.

At the most recent meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) it was revealed that both the buildings in Westmoreland and Portmore are almost complete and have no elevators to enable persons living with disabilities to access services on the upper floors of the buildings.

“The Government of Jamaica took the decision from as far back as in the 1990s that public buildings must be made accessible to persons with disabilities, so I am not sure why we are even having this discussion at this time,” said Brown, who is also the Opposition's advocate for persons with disabilities.

He continued: “Jamaica is the first country to both sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it is therefore unpardonable that newly constructed public buildings do not ensure access for all, particularly to the most vulnerable members of the population. Our local authorities should be leading the way in ensuring that the community is consulted and included. It is particularly egregious for local authorities to make decisions that intentionally exclude or neglect members of this vulnerable community.” 

According to Brown, "the excuse proffered, that installing elevators is too costly implies that persons with disabilities have fewer rights." He noted that it was ironic that the Local Authorities that are responsible for approving designs for building construction, would neglect to observe a basic requirement for the right of access to persons living with disabilities, in their own building constructions.

“We are concerned about the recommendation of ‘chair lifts’ as an option and bring to the attention of the Government one of the fundamental intentions of the 2014 Disabilities Act, which is to ensure that we as a country promote individual dignity, freedom of choice and independence for persons with disabilities.

Brown has also called on the Government to fast-track the promulgation of Regulations to support the enforcement of the Disabilities Act, which he says is at least four years overdue.

“Let us build a Jamaica for all its citizens, especially for those who are most vulnerable,” he said.

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