Accessibility on MV Nikolaos discussed in Parliament

Accessibility on board the MV Nikolaos, the vessel that had been chartered by the Gozo Channel as their fourth vessel had been discussed in the House of Representatives during the time allocated for supplementary questions.

Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana and Partit Nazzjonalista (PN) MPs clashed on accessibility on the vessel after PN MP Maria Deguara observed that the new addition to the fleet does not have a lift so that disabled persons can access the upper deck.

The Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) told that the vessel is being chartered for the short-term and that instead of a lift it has a chair-lift.

Minister Caruana said that the trip lasts eleven minutes and it would be wiser if the disabled persons stay in the car garage, and that usually carers tend to leave the disabled persons in the cars.

Reaction was immediate from PN’s Beppe Fenech Adami whop pointed out that the Minister is suggesting that disabled persons are left in the parked car without air-conditioning.

The Minister stressed that the vessel will only operate for 6 months and that the government has provided a priority lane for persons with disabilities at both terminals. From his end Fenech Adami said that what the Minister is saying could have legal implications.

The Minister hit back by saying that a lot went in to find the fourth vessel for the Gozo Channel fleet as the PN government made bespoke vessels for tailor-made terminals without thinking that these vessels might need to be changed at some point.

She also appealed not to politicize the fourth Gozo Channel vessel as it is a necessity for Gozitans.