People with disabilities (PWDs) in Kaduna State have sent save-our-soul message to the State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna State House of Assembly and other stakeholders to put them into consideration in the ongoing renovation of public facilities in the state.
The appeal was made in Kaduna during a gender and social inclusion dialogue meeting towards achieving quick wins on renovation of public facilities in the state over the weekend.
This was the first time stakeholders including government officials, building engineers, architects, civil society organizations (CSOs), corporate organisations, the media and PWDs would be meeting to discuss how these group of members of the society can be considered in building and renovation of public facilities in the state.
These people are saying for example, there are special hand-held water pumb, toilet facility, ATM, portable lift or manually folding ramps that can be used on all transit vehicles and trains – designed for PWDs for increase access.
Executive Director, Aid foundation a non-governmental organisation that called for the meeting, Bonet Emmanuel said, having been working with support from DFID through Christian AID over the years, his organisation has supported the ministry of women affairs and social development in developing the Kaduna State Gender and Social Inclusion Policy (GESI).
Bonet was quick to inform the attendees that, the meeting became necessary because the state is renovating some of its facilities but may not have taken GESI into consideration to ensure that the physical public facilities being renovated are accessible to by persons with disabilities.
“We believe that we can achieve some great quick wins while the renovation is still on with partnership with your organizations with a little modification. We therefore called for this technical meeting to fashion out modalities for a cost-effective intervention.
“It is our believe that this initiative would bring about greater citizens inclusion and increase Kaduna State’s rating in the international front on good practices on increasing access for PWDs”, he opined.
Sharing her personal experience, a member of Joint National Association of People with Disabilities (JONA-PWD), Hajia Rahmatu Ahmad narrated how she had to climb a three storey building during her undergraduate days at Kaduna Polytechnic.
“Over the years, government has not been considering us in its plans when it comes to public interventions. I remember very well while I was studying in Kaduna Polytechnic, I was having my lectures at third floor.
“It was a hell of kind for me because it took me a lot of energy, courage and determination to climb the up-hill everyday because my lectures are fixed between 7 am and 4 pm.
“No toilet facility up there and that means going down to climb again or I remain pressed until 4 pm when I would go down stares for my practicals.
“Though I complained but they told me there was nothing they could do about it and that has not changed. That singular experience was enough to deny PWDs access to education”, she said.
Also sharing his experience, visually impaired broadcaster with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Kaduna network centre, Salisu Ibrahim explained how difficult it was for PWDs to use social facilities like borehole, worship centres, public transport, ATMs among others.
“It is painful that PWDs are not recognised here in Nigeria as seen in other climes where you can walk kilometres with your white cane without fear. But here in Nigeria, people will push you or your cane without apology. We are also members of the society just like every other person”.
He then called on the state government to include PWDs in its agencies so that everyone would be considered while developing any developmental plan for the state saying, they should be put into consideration in the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the state.
At the end of the meeting, Kaduna State Facility Management Agency (KADFAMA) promised to partner with CSOs in Kaduna to campaign for the PWDs to gaining access to Public facilities, support the state to conduct census for the PWDs in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
KADFAMA also resolved to lead the campaign on inclusion starting with the need assessment of all existing infrastructures to be universally accessible and write to the government to wave tax for those who make their buildings universally accessible among others.
POSTED BY EDITOR