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)