THE Centre for Ability, Rehabilitation and Empowerment (CARE), an NGO has called on airline stakeholders to enhance easy access to airports for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
This is contained in a statement issued by Dr Chike Okogwu, the Executive Director of CARE, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Okogwu noted that PWDs travelling by air are often faced with lack of amenities such as ramps for persons in wheelchairs; inaccessibility to restrooms at some airports, and in some cases denied the chance to fly.
”Disability-friendly airports is a must have in Nigeria especially in compliance with the provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act.
”An accessible aviation signifies a disability friendly nation. We the disability stakeholders are calling for an accessible aviation industry, from disability friendly aviation policies to standard disability operations and procedures.
“We are aware that the airlines have appointed handler companies to ensure that PWDs are well taking care of while boarding and disembarking
“But we want the ministry of aviation to mandate all airlines to inculcate in their websites an option to indicate that one is a person with disability and the kind of assistance they need.
“There should be understanding that there are different types of disability and their needs differs.,” he said.
He said that the deaf would need sign language interpreters at the airports or inscription posters or visual display all around the airports.
He said the blind need audio announcement and a guide within the airports, also Persons with Physical Disabilites need wheelchairs, ambi-lift, stair-climber-wheelchair and ramps.
Okogwu also said that Persons with Albinism also need the inscription or direction within the airports written boldly, and they require umbrellas while boarding under the sun.
He said that though the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had allocated a place for CARE staff at Abuja airport to ensure that PWDs got the necessary assistance needed at the airport.
Okogwu added that also FAAN had ensured that there was a special area in all airports for PWDs, however customer protection service should be extended to PWDs.
According to him, FAAN, has given directive for Persons With Reduced Mobility(PRM) to park close to the entrance of the airport and all that a PRM requires is to inform the security that he or she is a PRM and they will direct him or her where to park.
“But this does not last long as it has been observed to be disrupting other vehicular movement for long.
“FAAN have also created a parking lot well marked for PWDs at Abuja airport but there is concern about the parking lots being occupied by other people and not enough parking lots for PWDs.
“The blind community have raised concern over mixup with their luggages which they found difficult to identify,and plead for separation of their luggages from others for easy identification.
“There is also concern about the attitude of security personnel who often times look down on PWDs and subject them to more ugly experiences.
“And also there is concern about the newly procured buses which doesn’t meet the requirement to guarantee access for wheelchairs users,” he said.
He called on the National Commission for Persons With Disabilites (NCPWD) to absorb capable personnel from CARE and other disability organisations smyo train and build the capacity of airport officials on PWDs related matters.(NAN)