By Yusuf Odejobi
Transport veterans have encouraged the Nigerian government to prioritize services for people living with disabilities (PWD) when developing infrastructure for all transportation modes across the nation.
Experts made this appeal during an online summit organized by Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT) Nigeria, even as they stressed the need for more laws and implementation of existing ones to protect the rights and obligations of PWDs.
Speaking at the event themed, “Mainstreaming the Physically-challenged in the Logistics and Transport sector,” the National President, Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT) Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Jibril said that apart from providing necessary facilities to enable the mobility of PWD, there is also a need for public enlightenment to cater for their challenges.
Jibril cited a recent personal experience of a PWD he encountered at the Lagos airport noted that a relative helped the PWD to access the corridor, but the airport officials had little information on how to help the PWD after the person crossed the boarding point.
Meanwhile, he commended WiLAT Nigeria for the timely webinar adding that the topic is germane because the PWD in Nigeria are not properly well cared for.
Also speaking at the event, a former General Manager at Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mrs. Carol Ufere noted that there’s a high-level exclusion of PWD in the top management cadre in the maritime sector adding that only the middle cadre few PWD are favoured.
She observed that even though the sector is male-dominated, the females living with disabilities face more challenges and harm compared to their male counterparts and hoped that the webinar would help address that.
According to her, only 9 out of the 36 states in Nigeria have enacted the disability law. She, therefore, called on the government to ensure proper implementation of existing laws to create a conducive environment for PWD and also urged the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to provide succour for PWD in the public and private sector.
While commending WiLAT for the event, she also stressed the need for regular advocacy and campaign to eliminate negative perception on PWD as they face physical, communication, attitudinal and technological barriers.
Meanwhile, the Convener, Speaking Fingers Network, Mrs. Treasure Uchegbu urged WiLAT to focus on goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all.
She harped on the need to promote disability awareness to bridge the gap and act of the legal and global framework of the United Nations Convention on the rights of PWD to have a sustainable transport sector for PWD.
Uchegbu said that PWDs are perceived as people living with burdens, especially the children who are often left behind. She, therefore, called for a mind shift on PWD, “there’s ability in disability” she added.
UN report states that about 15% of the world’s population are PWD. The population of PWD in Nigeria is 29.7 million. She noted that although the data is not well captured but with robust data, the government can plan for PWD.
The Global Vice Chairperson, North and West Africa, WiLAT, Mrs. Folake George earlier in her goodwill message also advocated for more awareness for PWD in the maritime sector.
She noted that as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the group once did charity to the Abuja Wheel Chair Association in 2019 and held a lecture for Spinal Cord Injury Association.
While commending WiLAT Nigeria on the success of the webinar, she urged the government and private organisations to be involved in the activities of PWD to enable them to have a fulfilled life despite their challenges.