Charlestown, Nevis — Seniors on the island of Nevis ushered in the International Month of Older Persons Thursday October 1st with adoration and thanksgiving following an announcement that arrangements have been made by the Nevis Island Administration for them to travel at no cost to them on Nevis Bus Association buses.
“The Ministry and Department of Social Services strongly believe in the independence of our people and more so our senior population, many of whom live on their own and are capable of providing self-care,” said the Hon Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Social Development in the Nevis Island Administration.
“As we celebrate another International Day of Older Persons, I am again extremely pleased to be launching another programme to benefit our seniors; the Seniors Subsidised Transport Programme.”
Minister Brandy-Williams was delivering remarks at a function held at the War Memorial Square in Charlestown to launch the new programme. Under this programme, all seniors 65 years and over using public buses will now travel at no cost to them on presentation of a Bus Pass Identification Card.
She advised that the new programme was a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Finance and the Nevis Bus Association. According to her, when the proposal was brought to the Nevis Bus Association, they totally embraced the idea and worked with the ministries to ensure that the initiative became a reality.
Minister Brandy-Williams distributed the first ten Bus Pass Identification Cards. Recipients were made up of two persons from each of the five parishes in Nevis. Receiving from the St. James’ Parish were Violet Perkins and Lorna Doras, while Allison Herbert and Nathaniel Parry were the recipients from St. Thomas’ Parish.
Others were Gweneth Maynard and Mildred Tyson of St. George’s Parish, Fostena Stevens and Agnola Browne from the St. Paul’s Parish, and Pauline Brister and Carmen Brookes of the St. John’s Parish.
“For those seniors who have not yet received your Bus Pass Identification Card and have an interest in this programme, you are asked to visit the Department of Social Services, Seniors Division, so that you can be duly registered to benefit from this new initiative,” advised Minister Brandy-Williams.
The Bus Pass Identification Card has an added benefit for the seniors noted the Hon Hazel Brandy-Williams.
“Again this Administration is alleviating some of the stresses we recognise that seniors experience,” Hon Brandy-Williams observed. “I also wish to inform that not only will this card allow you to travel on the buses for free, it also exempts you seniors from the $1.00 travel tax (Port Facility Fee) between St. Kitts and Nevis.”
According to Minister Brandy-Williams, when the Administration took office in 2013, it immediately put in place a long term priority of action which would ensure that life and living for the elderly was comfortable.
The Administration expanded the weekly recreation programme for seniors, and introduced the subsidised water and electricity programme to all seniors 65 years and over, while in 2014 her ministry in seeking to provide holistic programmes launched the Sports Health and Wellness Programme which provides physical therapy to the housebound, many of whom are seniors.
The function was attended by a cross-section of seniors, many of whom had assembled at the War Memorial Square as early as 2:00 p.m. It is the officials who turned up at3:30 p.m. when the programme was officially due to start.
With Minister Brandy-Williams was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development Mr Keith Glasgow who advised those gathered that Premier the Hon Vance Amory was not able to attend as he was executing national duties in St. Kitts in his capacity as the Federation’s Acting Prime Minister. Also in attendance was Ms D. Michelle Liburd, the Assistant Secretary.
Chairing the function was Mrs Kim Singh; the response by a representative of the seniors was made by Mrs Mildred Tyson, while the vote of thanks was delivered by Mrs Ionie Swanston. Birthday greetings were extended to Mrs Susanna Brandy of Brick Kiln who was celebrating her 91st birthday on October 1st. She is the mother of the Hon Hazel Brandy-Williams.
Making brief remarks at the function was Mrs Garcia Hendrickson, Coordinator in the Senior Citizens Division who said: “We are always examining ways of improving the lives of our seniors, be it socially, physically, financially or spiritually, as they would have made significant contributions to this society and this is our way of saying ‘thank you. We appreciate you’.”
Public Relations Officer of the Nevis Bus Association Mr Charles ‘Junie’ Liburd said that his association was happy to be part of the partnership adding that they had no problem working with the seniors.
“We are very happy that the programme has started and we are looking forward to do much with the seniors,” said Mr Liburd. “As time goes by, will do what we have to do. All the seniors are here this afternoon, we are encouraging you to get out of your house, come into town, and walk around for an hour. Leave the Jeep at home, jump on a bus.”