#TheBahamas, December 8, 2022 – Opportunities and services previously out of reach for many Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) in The Bahamas are now easier to access with groundbreaking upgrades to the ‘AccessAbility’ mobile app innovated by the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), through a Bahamian APP developer.
As of January 2023, PWD’s registered on the App will be able to book accessible transportation, allowing unprecedented freedom of movement.
For now, services available on the App include free interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing; disaster alerts from NEMA; free registration with NCPD which includes mapped location of registered PWD’s in times of disaster; complaints mechanism; bus routes showing street by street movement ; request for adaptive equipment and other services; business directory for organizations compliant with the Disabilities Act; Career/job listings; as well as trending local and international news and resources.
Financing for the App and the related public education programme was contributed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Multi Country Office located in Jamaica which serves The Bahamas among five English-speaking countries in the northern Caribbean. The App is available for free download from Google Play and the App Store and is also preloaded on all new devices purchased from local telecommunications provider Aliv in partnership with NCPD.
At the launch event on Sunday (4 December), Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Philip Davis said that The Bahamas aimed to achieve inclusion and accessibility on a level playing field for persons with disabilities and that the App was one of the means through which this could be achieved. He lauded the services provided through the app and highlighted the accessible transportation, one touch access to emergency services and sign language interpretation.
The Prime Minister announced that the Department of Labour will enable job listings in the AccessAbility app, and further reminded employers of provisions in the Disability Act for the employment of one person with a disability for every 100 employees. “I am asking corporate Bahamas to join the Government in recognizing the potential in persons with disabilities and providing employment opportunities that may never have been considered before,” he said.
Other major disclosures made by the Prime Minister included The Bahamas’ ratification of ILO Convention 159 establishing the right of PWD to vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities, and the successful implementation of the Nassau Airports Development’s Sunflower Laynard programme offering empathetic and specialized service to travelling PWD’s
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, said exclusion of PWD’s over the years has been troubling, but the mobile app will help bring the community closer to realizing inclusion and becoming part of the normalcy of the country. “We are elated and moved. PWD’s are celebrating because we have come a long way and UNDP is helping to make a difference” Minister Wilchcombe stated.
UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said recognizing that Disability Inclusion is a development issue requires continued attention and investment, UNDP supported the Government’s mission to expand digital inclusion to marginalized groups through the Digital Access for All (DAFA) Bahamas Project, specifically focusing on the AccessAbility Mobile App and public education.
She reiterated UNDP’s commitment to improving ICT infrastructure and digital access with and for PWD’s in The Bahamas; advancing gender equality and the empowerment of PWD’s in The Bahamas and forging partnerships to identify challenges and potential solutions to reduce inequalities against Persons with Disabilities. “It is crucial for governments, public and private sectors, to collaboratively find innovative solutions with and for persons with disabilities, to make the world a more accessible and equitable place,” the Resident Representative noted.
She encouraged Persons with Disabilities to register with the NCPD through the App to ensure they benefit from a wide array of services.
The launch of the AccessAbility mobile app will be immediately followed by a multimedia public education campaign to encourage awareness, downloads, and usage among PWDs.
Technology and digitalization are considered enablers in UNDP’s global service offer of six signature solutions focusing on leaving no one behind. To this end, UNDP partners with countries to develop appropriate digital solutions which help advance poverty eradication, inclusion, equality and crisis resilience. UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica serves Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas
By Shanieka Smith
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.
“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.
Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.
Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”
The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.
Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.
Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch
By Dana Malcolm
February 2, 2023 – Grocery stores and dozens of other businesses will be under the microscope soon as the government begins aggressively enforcing the Consumer Protection Ordinance passed back in 2016 with an all-new Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement (C.A.R.E) Drive.
Carried out by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Fair Competition the drive aims to “actively educate providers whilst enforcing the main provisions to protect consumers under the Consumer Protection Ordinance,” a press release explained.
Firstly, Consumer Officers charged with protecting the people of the TCI from unfair business practices will be assessing the prices of selected breadbasket items in 23 different stores countrywide each month to see whether price gouging is being carried out by businesses.
Breadbasket items are currently duty-free under the Food and Fuel Tax Break until the end of the financial year in March and all savings from those tax exemptions should be passed on directly to the consumer. After each assessment, which will continue for several months at least a monthly price report will be published on the Department of Trade’s website.
In addition, the Consumer Officers will be monitoring other business activities across the country “to ensure that providers are compliant with their duties to consumers.”
Those responsibilities include:
- Giving customers certain basic information about goods and services being sold;
- Informing consumers about terms and conditions before any payment is made (e.g., warranties, refunds, returns, exchanges, etc.) and;
- Abstaining from misleading and deceptive conduct, false representation and unfair business practices.
The government says they will reach at least 85 businesses with the C.A.R.E. Drive but they did not indicate the process behind how these businesses had been singled out. Non-compliant ones will be fined after a thorough investigation and warnings are issued by the Department of Trade.
With this in mind, business owners are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with their duties under the Ordinance lest they be caught in breach. The government did not say what entities would be assessed and whether that included major retail grocery stores, gasoline dealers, water companies, electricity providers, telecommunications companies and other essential providers of the services that all islanders spend on.
74 Foreign Nationals Convicted in The Magistrate’s Court
#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – In Magistrate’s Court #1 today, seventy-two (72) foreign nationals were arraigned before Magistrate Algernon Allen Jr. for various immigration offenses.
Thirty-two (32) Cuban nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) of them were subsequently sentenced to four months in the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS). Thirty (30) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department of Immigration to be deported.
A total of forty (40) Haitian nationals were convicted of Illegal Landing. Two (2) received custodial sentences of three months at BDOCS, and thirty-seven (37) were conditionally discharged and released to the Department to be deported. In addition to the charge of Illegal Landing, one (1) Haitian man was also convicted of Knowingly Attempting to Misleading an Immigration Officer and subsequently sentenced to six months at BDOCS on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Three (3) Haitian nationals were also charged with Overstaying. Two (2) pleaded guilty and were convicted. Respectively they were fined $2,000.00 or, in default of payment, served six months at BDOCS, conditionally discharged, and deported. One (1) Haitian female pleaded not guilty, and the matter was adjourned to a later date. Upon payment of fines, completion of sentences, and discharge, all persons were ordered to be turned over to the Department of Immigration for deportation.
The Department remains committed to executing our mandate to ensure compliance with the Statue Laws of our country.
For more information, call the Public Relations Unit at 1-242-322-7530, visit our website at www.immigration.gov.bs, or call our Investigation hotline anonymously, at 1-242-604-0249.
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