Home Disability News PWDs decry distance, inadequate wheelchairs, others in Gombe Airport

PWDs decry distance, inadequate wheelchairs, others in Gombe Airport

by Inclusive News Network

By Chima Azubuike

Some Persons With Disabilities in Gombe, on Thursday decried distance from the arrival/departure to the aircraft, lack of universally acceptable wheelchairs and unfriendly toilets as some of the impeding factors affecting their access at the Airport.

The PWDs also urged Gombe State Government to domesticate the National Disability Rights Act, in order to provide them enabling environment to operate.

The accessibility of Nigerian Airports to PWDs sensitisation was organised by a Coalition of Disability Organisations in conjunction with Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities and Hope Alive for Possibilities Initiative with support from Disability Rights Fund Project.

Speaking, Fatima Yakubu, National Women Leader for people with Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria and State Chairperson; decried the challenges some of her members faced in accessing some Airport facilities.

She said, “The problem we face in Gombe Airport is the distance from the departure to the aircraft. Secondly, some of the aircrafts are not compliant to the needs of persons with disabilities. They lack things like adequate wheelchairs.”

While urging for prompt domestication of the Disability Rights Act, Yakubu added, “We are pleading for government to come to our aid by domesticating the National Disability law in Gombe State. The law is important for our well-being.”

Also, Abdulwahab Matepo, National Chairman of the Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria said due to the overwhelming security issues, Air travel was not only fastest but safer, lamenting the challenges members faced embarking on aircrafts.

“Given the insecurity on our roads we also want to avoid some of the security challenges. Travelling by air is very problematic for people with disabilities that was how we conducted a result on what experiences our people have been going through then look at facilities they have for PWD,” Matepo said.

He disclosed that they conducted research in six geopolitical zone and in seven Airports, adding that they discovered that the challenges PWDs battled with should be ameliorated.

Matepo said, “Gombe Airport has limited in facilities because its still a State Government facility, if it were Federal Government the facility would have been of higher status. I’m happy the Government is making effort at the State level to hand it over but we still appreciate what they have because it has made travelling to Gombe very easy the challenge include; distance between aircraft, the arrival and departure hall. They should provide universally acceptable wheelchairs because as one with (Spinal cord) disability, I can’t crawl like one with some induced by polio would, I will need a wheelchair that I can open from the side and slide.”

On domestication, he added, “that is very important, because Gombe is one of the 16 States yet to domesticate the National law on disability. I want to believe the state has alot of people with disability. We need the law domesticated so that the PWDs can have a sense of belonging.”

On his part, Bala Zana, Vice Chairman Joint Association of Persons With Disabilities called on Governor Muhammadu Yahaya to expedite the domestication of National Disability Rights Act.

Zana said, “I want to call on Gombe State Government to domesticate the law for the protection of those living with disabilities.

“He should consider the domestication of the necessary laws to grant us relieve.”

The Commissioner for Works and Transportation Abubakar Bappah, who was represented by Director of Transportation Yakubu Magaji, commended the organisers, adding that they would ensure compliance of relevant statutes protecting PWDs in the State.

“We will try our best as a Ministry to protect their rights, most especially the issues they raised about the Airport,” Bappah said.

He added that the Ministry would ensure full domestication of National Disability law stressing that “because this involves everyone, before we leave this world we are not sure whether we will not have disability, it’s timely.”

Some airline stakeholders present lauded the sensitisation, while assuring that they would make their aircrafts, airport facilities PWDs compliant.

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