by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
Imagine having a disability and being unable to enter into your workplace because unauthorised vehicles continue to occupy parking spot reserved for you to gain easy access to the building. This is the reality for many people with disabilities in Grenada.
Rudy James spoke with NOW Grenada on the challenges he faces on a daily basis attempting to access public spaces: being blocked by persons and vehicles. “Many times, when I want to go home, some children block the road; sometimes when vehicles block the road, sometimes I have to ask them to let me pass. Sometimes when I get off a bus on mornings, there are vehicles blocking the entrance, and when you tell them they can’t park where they want, they tell you don’t tell them anything.”
Secretary of the Grenada National Council for the Disabled (GNCD) Carlene Pezar, highlighted a reoccurring trend where vehicles owner would remove the orange cones placed in front the GNCD building, discarding them in the nearby drain. “People have no respect for the cones; they just take the cones and just throw it away, and they park here like it’s okay…”
Pezar said several vehicle owners were hostile when confronted. “…we come out and tell them that you are not allowed to remove the cones, and they will curse, they will even park on the ramp and the ramp is there for people with disabilities to access the building…”
Another major issue confronting the GNCD is the absence of a disabled parking sign as a result of the recent resurfacing of the road. The GNCD has been lobbying the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to replace the sign.
GNCD board member Ann Ogiste Hopkins said there is a much bigger issue is the lack of disabled parking signs throughout the country, creating serious access challenges for the disabled. “We are asking Grenadians do not remove the signs where there is parking for the disabled and also we are asking the government to put more signs and encourage people from parking too close to the building where the disabled have to enter.”
Hopkins said that parking on the sidewalk, entrances, as well as in areas where there are disabled signs and cones, severely restrict freedom of access for the disabled.
Pezar said even more disturbing is the fact that the disabled parking sign is still not respected by the motoring public. “…when the sign was there before they resurfaced the road, we have had people parking there, and when you get out and tell them about it, they would say that when they are driving, they don’t look down at the road.”
NOW Grenada spoke with ASP Lenford Kingston of the RGPF Traffic Department. He said that they are aware of the need to repaint the disable parking sign front of the GNCD, but must wait until the pavement surface is fully cured before the sign can be placed.
It appears the Road Traffic Act in its present form, does not cater for the needs of the disabled, a situation being presently addressed. Until then, the RGPF has authorised the GNCD to use cones to demark entrances and no parking areas, to allow unrestricted access for the disabled to public spaces.
ASP Kingston cautioned persons removing disabled parking signs and the traffic cones, quoting the Road Traffic Act CAP 5, Section 80 subsection (b) which states that ‘any person who removes, defaces, damages, alters or obscure or in any way interferes with any traffic sign lawfully placed erected, marked or retained on or near any road commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $500 or to imprisonment for 3 months or both.’