Barrett Town, Granville benefiting from JSIF's 'Safe Route to School' initiative

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Barrett Town, Granville benefiting from JSIF's 'Safe Route to School' initiative

BY ONOME SIDO
Observer West writer

Thursday, November 26, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James - Principals for the Barrett Town All-Age and Granville Primary and Infant schools in St James are ecstatic about the new infrastructure built under the 'Safe Passages: Safe Routes to School' initiative guided by the Complete Streets Policy, which forms part of the Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP).

The project forms part of a US$42-million World Bank-funded initiative which is being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) over a five-year period.

The Safer Route to Schools initiative is aimed at improving travel safety by making better conditions for bicycling, walking, and public transportation.

Under the project, some eight school communities islandwide are expected to benefit.

Principal of the Granville Primary and Infant School, Ann-Marie Brown, told the Jamaica Observer West that the project is welcomed and highly appreciated, even though her students have not started to use the newly implemented safe passage due to closure of school plant as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There was indeed a deep concern for our students' safety because this area is a busy thoroughfare for vehicular traffic. So on behalf of the board, the principal, the staff and students of the Granville Primary and Infant School, we want to extend a heartfelt thanks to JSIF as they continue their work in nation-building in seeking to ensure the safety of our students on the road,” said Brown.

Anthony Murray, principal of Barrett Town All- Age, also in St James, where the first programme was completed earlier this year, stated that the initiative has enhanced the aesthetical value of the community.

“The children now have sidewalks and guardrails, and areas which are well-labelled using cartoons. It keeps them off the roads which reduces the likelihood of accidents. In the past, where children would have a narrow escape from accidents, now they have an earmarked space to walk to and from school and the school community feels safer,” stated Murray, prior to the closure of his school due to coronavirus pandemic.

“You can see the pride on the faces of the children and community members as they traverse the areas.”

Alicia Malcolm, president of the Granville Community Development Committee (CDC), lauded JSIF for implementing the project in the community.

“It is a very good project and it is very beneficial to the community members, both young and old,” she stressed.

“This is very important especially to the students because many times you have students being hit down by cars. The students were actually walking in the road and it was very dangerous walking from the [Granville] square coming down to the school,” she argued, adding that the project also gives the area a facelift.

Shunelle Nevers, the senior social development officer at JSIF, said the initiative is not only about road safety for children, “it's about sustainable streets.”

She noted that during JSIF's research of the communities chosen under the initiative, the consensus was that most of the children were placed in a dangerous situation traversing the school route.

She reiterated the importance of putting in sustainable measures to mitigate dangerous circumstances including, but not limited to, road fatalities.

“Most of the primary schools in Jamaica have inadequate street infrastructure for students and pedestrians to traverse the main thoroughfares to school. The absence of physical road infrastructure such as sidewalks, guardrails, etcetera, surrounding educational institutions, forces children walking to school to manoeuvre complex traffic conditions, which compromise their safety,” she argued.

She told the Observer West that during the scoping of the project JSIF spoke to many principals and teachers who lamented at not having sidewalk infrastructure or road signs.

“One principal and her teachers mentioned that they have to arrive at school extremely early to direct taxi men, and try to herd her students into one line in an attempt to be safer. With children as young as five years old walking to school unaccompanied, it creates a very dangerous situation. I have a case in Granville, St James, where one student was hit by a car and died as a result of the accident,” she said.

Apart from Granville and Barrett Town, where the project was implemented at a combined cost of roughly $30 million, the other school communities set to benefit are Wilton Gardens, Maxfield Park, Hannah Town, Denham Town and Tivoli Gardens in Kingston and St Andrew and York Town in Clarendon.


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