Americas, Transportation, September 23 2019

BARBADOS: Government may be looking outside the Transport Board to provide optional transportation, possibly in the range of motorised scooters and wheelchairs along with other specially adapted vehicles for persons with disabilities.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn today hinted that in light of the Transport Board’s resources challenges the current administration could be moving in this direction to meet the needs of the disabled community.

Straughn was at the time addressing a certificate presentation ceremony for persons trained in provision of wheelchair servicing and other technical support at the BCD’s Harambee House headquarters, the Garrison.

Certificates of training were presented to five BCD members who went through a week of instructions by trainers of Latter-Day Charity of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. That organisation also handed over to BCD a number of wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

“Transportation of choice for persons with mobility challenges is a real issue,” Straughn noted.

“Within the Ministry of Finance in recent times we’ve determined from a policy perspective that we are going to adMinister and treat to giving people choices with respect to their transportation needs so that you don’t feel as if somehow you are trapped within your homes.”

The Minister added, “Rather than having to rely on the state through the Transport Board we are in the process of reviewing how we can assist in ensuring that persons with mobility challenges have the same freedoms that I do with respect to their transportation needs.”

Straughn said to those gathered for the ceremony, “Your Government, working with private providers, will see how best we can fashion a framework that resolves an issue of transportation,” while referencing British operator, Motability Operations, suppliers of scooters, wheelchairs and wheelchair adapted vehicles.

According to its website Motability Operations says it enables persons with disabilities to use their Government-issued disability access or mobility allowance to “lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or wheelchair accessible vehicle”. The scheme boasts of providing “freedom” to those who use the services.

Straughn however cautioned, “I can’t say that we will get to that stage where the car dealers understand their role in supplying persons with disabilities with the choice of being able to adapt. It requires a lot of collaboration.”

He however made it clear that against the backdrop of the Transport Board’s financial and fleet challenges there are alternatives which have to be financed. “We’re going to find the best way to be able to help advance that,” he added.

He said his ministry is collaborating with Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde who was present at the event, to see how best the challenges can be met. 

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