Persons with disabilities to collaborate with transport providers to enhance  travel  access 

Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC), in collaboration with the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPwD)  is set to collaborate with transportation providers to enhance travel   access  for Persons Living With Disabilities (PWDs).

The Executive Director of DRAC, Irene Patrick-Ogbogu said this while fielding questions from newsmen  at a Stakeholders’ Planning and Consultative Meeting on “Access to Transportation for Persons with Disabilities”.

The meeting was organised on Wednesday in Abuja by DRAC with support from Ford Foundation .

Patrick-Ogbogu said that working with stakeholders in the transportation sector had become imperative as PWDs had always find it difficult to access the various forms of   transportation in Nigeria.

“Today, we are having a stakeholders meeting on access to transportation for  PWDs .

“This is a very important event because it is coming on the backdrop of a lot of discriminatory experiences that PWDs face in trying to access transportation generally weather it is air, land water or rail transportation.

“We have been having extremely terrible experiences, we have been confronted with challenging cases of discriminations and we feel that it is time for us to talk to the stakeholders, bring them to a round table.

“This is so we can talk with them, educate them on what the challenges are and let’s all work together to find the solution ,’’she said.

Patrick-Ogbogu said that when PWDs travel by air most times they were carried up and down the aircraft which was dangerous to them, especially in this time of COVID-19.

She said that the act of being carried was also very  dehumanising and degrading to them.

She said that most times PWDs had issues with where their wheel chairs and mobility devices were kept so they get lost or damaged most times.

“There are  too much negative experiences that we felt ok it is time for us to organise ourselves. .

“This is the beginning of the conversation  to talk about implementing the provisions of the various laws that we have because the disability Act is very clear about rights of persons with disabilities to access transportation .”

She said that stakeholders were brought from  the transportation sector  to  see how they could work with them to build their capacity  and have a review of their existing policies that were discriminatory to PWDs.

Patrick-Ogbogu said the meeting was also to look at  how to amend their  guidelines and polices so that they could be more accommodating and inclusive in their practices so that PWDs could  access transportation on an equal basis with others.

NCPWD’s Executive Secretary,  Mr James  Lalu ,said that PWDs had suffered setbacks in the transportation sector and the commission would henceforth work to solve  that.

Lalu said that  looking  into the disabilities Act , section nine down to  15 was  dedicated to ensuring accessibility  to PWDs  in the transport sector from air ,land rail and water .

He said that the commission would therefore  ensure that PWDs were  carried along in the design, deconstruction  and management of the transportation facilities in Nigeria .

He added that the commission would also ensure that the issues of PWDs remained central to  both  the government and private sector in Nigeria either from their policies to their staffing .

Lalu said that the capacity of key transport stakeholders would be built to understand issues of PWDs ” this is  because if we are demanding accessibility our people need to be there to work with them .

“This is  because he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches .

“Our people have suffered a lot of discrimination and  by the coming of this commission we are saying enough is enough.

“We are not going to fight anybody but we will sit at a table to review all these polices and tally the polices with the PWDs acts to solve the problems of PWDs in Nigeria .

“We will identify the responsibility  of all  MDAs and write to them and visit them for high level discussion so it can be put into practice, ‘he said. .

Mr Ikem Uchegbulam, Acting Director, Enforcement and Compliance NCPWD, said that collaborating with DRAC was part of the  commission’s drive toward effective and full implementation and enforcement  of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition Act 2018 .

Uchegbulam said that the collaboration was aimed at restoring the dignity and value of life of PWDs in Nigeria .

He said that sensitisation would  be a key way of ensuring compliance to the provisions of the Act  because if people were  not aware of the content of the act then compliance would be an issue. (NAN)

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