Montserrat Association for Persons with Disabilities (MAPD) said Tuesday they were delighted with the introduction of concessionary fares for escorts/carers of disabled people on the local ferry service between Montserrat and Ferry, currently operated by the Jaden Sun. However, they have concerns about how the policy will be implemented and chided the government for not including them in the discussions.
In a statement the MAPD said “we lobbied for this policy for four reasons:
- There is a constitutional requirement to provide equal access to all Government facilities regardless of whether members of the public have a disability.
- We recognise that applying the disability codes of practice applying to the larger ferries used in other countries would limit the options available to the Government in sourcing operators of smaller vessels.
- It recognises the role of unpaid carers in allowing physically disabled and blind people to be full and active members of society.
- It will allow Montserrat to include accessibility in the marketing of the island as a tourist destination.
“However, that detail of the policy has not moved forward since it was first included in the Aquila Aviation Consultants report published in April, and the language is confused.
“The consultant’s report referred to carers of people who are “physically disabled” and “blind.” In the budget report the phrase “physically challenged” is used, and the latest announcement there is no reference to people who are blind. The policy refers however to people with “mental disabilities” (which we assume means cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities).
“We are disappointed that we have not been consulted over the wording, definitions and eligibility criteria. The lack of consultation breaches the DFID Strategy for Disability Inclusive Development which says that there will “consultation with people with disabilities and their representative organisations, in the design, implementation and evaluation of policy and strategy.”
“The policy goes live in a week’s time but there are several questions that need to answered.
- Who is eligible?
- How is eligibility demonstrated?
- Is this a one-off process (which would usually be through a registration scheme) or will eligibility have to be demonstrated every-time a ticket is purchased?
- Through what means are carers tickets purchased and will they be available online?
- Has the ticket office in Antigua been briefed?”
A spokesperson for MAPD said “There is no doubting though, that this it is a major step forward for Montserrat, and a policy that the island should be proud of.”