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Protect children, appeals PM Holness

Friday, May 17, 2019

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness is appealing for good judgement to be exercised on the nation's roads, as he condemned the indiscipline and offensive behaviours of some drivers.

“We decry the unnecessary and offensive behaviour of some of our drivers on our local thoroughfares; and, we are horrified that very often the safety of road users takes a back seat,” he said.

The prime minister made the appeal at the launch of Labour Day 2019 at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday, May 7. Labour Day is being observed under the theme “Child Safety… it's you, it's me, it's all ah we!”.

He made the appeal against the background of the fact that 120 children lost their lives on the nation's road within the past five years; and the significant number suffering from life-changing injuries, as a result of more than 70,000 crashes within 100 metres of school zones, during the past decade.

“This is unacceptable for a country which consistently says we love our children. Further, this is happening at a time when the nation and the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child,” he said, pointing out that children should be protected.

He stated that this signalled the need for programmes and activities, geared to protect children; and commended the Labour Day Committee in focusing on road safety.

This year, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, which is the lead ministry on Labour Day, has joined forces with the Jamaica National (JN) Foundation and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in its Labour Day activities.

Onyka Barrett Scott, general manager of the JN Foundation, said that the Foundation welcomed the partnership, noting that the focus on children was timely, as May is being observed as Child Month, which is followed by Road Safety Month in June.

“Undoubtedly, the elevation of road safety onto this national platform will deepen the impact of the existing public-private road safety campaigns, especially as regard [to] the safety of our children,” she said.

She also highlighted that: “At the JN Foundation, one of our objectives is to enhance the health and safety of all Jamaicans. We do so through our various Road Safety Programmes, such as the most recent initiative, X-Marks the Spot School Crosswalks Campaign, which aims to encourage advocacy and discussions about road safety overall and specifically the safe passage of our children to and from school. ”

In addition, she stated that the JN Foundation along with its partners, UNICEF and the Abertis Foundations, through X Marks the Spot, will upgrade the crossing zones for 18 schools in areas with the highest incidences of road crashes, fatalities or near misses over the past three years.

For the Labour Day, May 23, the focus will be on the four national projects at: Papine High School, St Andrew; Fair Prospect Primary School, Portland; Holland Primary School, St Elizabeth and Barrett Town All-Age School, St James.

The activities for these national projects will include renovation of pedestrian crossings; installation of appropriate signage; paving of sidewalks, and other road-related infrastructure.

At the launch, Olivia “Babsy” Grange, minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, urged citizens to initiate similar projects within their communities.


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