By Robert A. Emmanuel
The Traffic Department in the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board yesterday announced new traffic regulations and emblems regarding disabled parking spots in St John’s.
Speaking on state media, the head of the traffic department, Superintendent Elson Quammie said that the new rules indicated that individuals who will use the disabled parking spaces must apply to the Transport Board in writing, with a copy of their medical report certifying their disability.
He added that persons who violate the regulations would be liable to a summary conviction of a $500 fine or six-months imprisonment.
Project Officer for the Transport Board, Sherrylaine Bowens said that there will be different emblems—one for the permanently disabled that will cost $175 and will last 12 months and the other for temporarily disabled which will cost $120 and will be valid for six months.
“I am encouraging all those in that category [permanently disabled] to come in because those who get them now will get an extra month free because these expire on December 31, 2024. [The emblem] is hung on the rear view mirror and can be transferred from one vehicle to another,” Bowens said.
However, she discouraged individuals from using the emblems to “go joyriding” and parking in disability spaces without certification of a disability or transporting a disabled person.
“Like any new project, there will be kinks and we will straighten them as we go along and we will get them to perfection as we go along,” she said.
Since May 2023, the Traffic Department has placed several disability parking spaces throughout St John’s, to include Redcliffe, High, Long, Nevis, and St Mary’s streets, following intense lobbying by the Association of Persons Living with Disability in Antigua and Barbuda.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Quammie added that while the Traffic Department officials spent most of the last six months educating the public about the new spaces and the rules surrounding them, they will begin ramping up fines for violations within the next month.
“It will be a no-nonsense thing for the police with these signs because if you fail to obey the law, the wrecker service will remove your vehicle [at a cost of] $400 from the city to the motor pool and once the vehicle arrives at motor pool, it is $50, and every day after is $10 per day.
“For the new year, I made some recommendations to get some clamps so if you park in the disabled spots, we will clamp your vehicle and you will have to pay to remove the clamp. You will still get a ticket and, if possible, we might still take your vehicle to the motor pool,” the traffic department head stated.