Rig in Little Bay on July 22, 2022 being used for the drilling of boreholes for the Port Development Project.

MAPD Supporting CDB to Ensure the New Port is Disability Friendly

The Caribbean Development Bank is carrying out a programme of disability audits on the projects delivered under the UKCIF programme. UKCIF is the UK’s Caribbean Infrastructure Fund, and the projects it supports include the Montserrat Port Project.

CDB said: “The objective is to facilitate improved integration of disability inclusion considerations in the UKCIF portfolio so that the infrastructure built, and services provided through UKCIF (and beyond as far as possible) better meet the needs of Persons with Disabilities”. The work includes “the completion of a disability audit, checklist, and a portfolio of recommendations.” In addition, there will be “user testing processes involving Persons with Disabilities, through a highly consultative process.”

The architects engaged by CDB to carry out the audit asked if they could partner with MAPD to support the fieldwork on the island, and we were delighted to accept. The architects, based in Canada, are specialists in social design and local engagement. Helena Grdadolnik, the project lead, said that from her experience, the evidence and conclusions from social impact assessments often aren’t reflected in the final product and on this occasion, her job is to ensure this happens.

MAPD was asked to interview local people with disabilities about their thoughts on the project, particularly the opportunities for employment during and after construction and how the contractors can ensure the port is accessible to everyone. We also asked how people can best participate in the user testing before, during and after construction. Interviews were held with people with different interest levels in the port, including potential ferry users and employees.

Craig Brewin, MAPD’s Head of Campaigns, said: “We have been looking forward to this project for some time. The Social Impact Assessment on the post was perhaps the boldest statement we have seen on the difficulties persons with disabilities face in Montserrat. We are very encouraged that CDB wants the issues addressed”.

The Social Impact Assessment, carried out by Stantec, says that addressing the “discrimination” faced by people with disabilities in Montserrat must be addressed as a matter of “urgency” if the port project is to be successful and beneficial to everyone.