By Lawani Mikairu
The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Mr David Anyaele, has revealed that after the five years moratorium given to states, stakeholders and organizations to implement the Discrimination against Person with Disabilities ( Prohibition) Act, 2018, the centre will mobilize PWDs to picket airports and airlines that contravene the act.
Anyaele made this disclosure at a seminar held in Lagos with the theme; Sensitization of Airline Operators on Accessibility of Persons with Disabilities”. He said with few months to the end of the moratorium period, the Centre feels there is urgent need to remind stakeholders, especially airlines, that PWDs are still not given desirable access to services.
According to Anyaele, the report from a study carried out by a Coalition of Disability Organizations (CODO) on Accessibility of Nigerian Airports to Persons with Disabilities shows that PWDs are still encountering myriad of challenges in using the airports.
He said: ” The report shows that there is still difficulty in getting on the aircraft. Difficulty in climbing the stairs into the airport building due to lack of/ non-functioning elevators and ramps. Communication barriers; absence of sign language communication.”.
” Absence of a Disability Desk at the Airports. Poor direction in the airport for PWDs. Denied boarding and lack of care by other travellers. Having to walk a long distance to board the plane and having to be carried physically which is embarrassing.”
The CDC therefore recommend that travel information should be provided in accessible format, eg, large print, bold print, braille , etc. It should also be ” mandatory for ground staff and cabin crew to give necessary and timely assistance to PWDs who may need them.”
The centre also recommend, amongst others, that ” Disability Desk Officers should be available as a rule in all airports. Special training should be organized for airport and airline personel involved in the provision of assistive services, including check-in staff, boarding staff and cabin crew”.
Speaking at the seminar, the representative of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Abuja Airport, Mr Geoffrey Nyinshina, said the authority is aware of some of these challenges confronting PWDs.
He said efforts are being made to address them.
” This is the second seminar organised by this centre, ( CDC ) that I am mandated to attend by my organization. We are aware of some of these problems and we are providing solutions. Abuja airport has facilities for persons living with disabilities. Wheel chairs are provided at the entrance for them and necessary assistance are rendered”.
” However, I will go back to my boss at Abuja airport and present the recommendations made today at this seminar. I promise necessary actions will be taken to address them,” the FAAN representative promised.