Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Amid jubilation over the reopening of Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has declared the airport’s facilities unfriendly to persons with disabilities.
The centre, which commended President Mohammed Buhari for the reopening of the airport after many months of shutown, said they were excited that flights could now resume at the airport.
The disabilities centre, however, described as unfortunate the unavailability of special facilities for persons with disabilities.
The Centre stated: ‘We are pleased to note that other facilities such as taxiway, link way, emergency operation centre, car park, entrance of the gate, perimeter fence and other critical airport infrastructures were provided in the rehabilitation project.
‘However, we are worried that President Buhari failed to ensure that the rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport includes the provision of Wheelchair lift designed for safety, and access to aircraft for passengers with disabilities
‘We are concerned that more than 90 per cent of airports in Nigeria are not accessible to citizens with Disabilities in Nigeria, even as the Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation was delivered without consideration to key Airport infrastructures pertinent to more that 25 million Nigerians with disabilities.
‘This, is at variance with President Buhari’s June 12, 2020 directives which include “that all relevant Government agencies pay special attention to the peculiarities of persons with disabilities in the formulation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their employment.’
The CCD called on President Buhari to compel the Minister of Aviation to provide without delay wheelchair lifts designed for safety and access to aircraft for passengers with disabilities in all the airports across the federation.
The CCD further asked the President to take necessary actions to ensure that Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, in particular Federal Ministry of Aviation implement the National Disability Act. And ensure that the N1 billion terminal building expansion included disability sensitive infrastructures such as disability friendly toilets and car parks amongst others.
‘The non-inclusion of disability sensitive infrastructures in the rehabilitation of Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, conflicts with the provisions of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 as known as the National Disability Act. Section 14 (2) of the Act provides that “All airports shall make available for the conveyance of persons with disabilities who need presentable and functional assistive and protective devices to and from the airport.
‘Regrettably, Enugu State Government is yet to adopt the National Disability Act, a situation that has exposed persons with disabilities in the State to constant discrimination, exclusion and neglect by the State government, as the State depends on charity based approach in addressing disability issues, which is not sustainable,’ the Centre stated.