March 05, 2008
Premier of Nevis Hon. Joseph Parry joined the call of a number of stakeholders on Nevis for greater caution on the island’s roads, the need for safety measures and public awareness at a symposium on Emergency Response and Safety, on Tuesday March 04, 2008. The meeting was hosted by the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMO) at Long Point.
“We need the police to help, we need the drivers to help, we need to have public awareness programmes and we need to have safety measures taken. We have to make use of the radio or the television, we need to go in the schools [and] we need to do all that is necessary to create that awareness.
“It can be done and it will be done before we lose any more lives. Three in any one year that is quite enough we don’t need anymore. We are not in the statistics business we are in the lifesaving business so let us do something about it now,” he said.
The Premier explained that people continued to speed on the island’s main and village roads; drink and drive; to hold up traffic to chat and to walk the streets unperturbed by traffic and believed that the recent fatal accidents had done nothing to change their attitudes.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Parry under whose portfolio the NDMO falls, noted that the meetings were designed to draw up a workable plan of action, that would improve some of the things on the island of Nevis and in St. Kitts and Nevis.
He said he planned to have a meeting with the Federal Cabinet to bring to their attention some of the problems and experiences in Nevis. He pointed to road safety, proper equipment in the area of fire fighting, the necessary resources to facilitate quick responses.
The NDMO moved to stage the symposium for a number of stakeholders to draft recommendations and an action plan, in the aftermath of a rapid number of fatal traffic accidents in January and February that had left Nevisians in a state of shock.
Meantime, in an earlier interview with the Department of Information Mr. Lester Blackette, Director of the NDMO explained that by the end of the meeting, participants would have drawn up recommendations and proposals to eliminate deaths and minimize accidents and their impact on the community.
In response to whether he thought the objectives were feasible Mr. Blackett said that it could be accomplished.
“I think it’s feasible because when you look at the reason why the accidents happen, all of them could not have happened if the proper precautions were taken or if the persons were thinking conservative or as we say defensive driving.
“We have also through the programme “Disaster and You” on Choice FM been sensitising the general public to the issue and allowing them to call in on the programme and from the reaction we have gotten both there and on the website for the Disaster Management Office, persons are willing to go the extra step. We are asking one and all to be our brother’s keeper and to look out for things which should not be happening on the road, evidence of drunk driving for example and violations of the traffic laws,” he said.
“So even you go a little fast you can still drive defensively and I think that is the message that has to go out “¦It is therefore important that people understand a life is worth a lot more than saving a minute foe a job or an appointment or something like that,” he said.
The Director said that the NDMO was perfectly poised in a position to coordinate a symposium of that nature since everyone was responsible. He noted that the portfolio of Disaster Management was a wide one since disasters were on a national basis but there were individual disasters in a particular environment.