Lagos State Government has promised to ensure that disabled persons in the State enjoy meaningful life through continuous exploration of available avenues in making life more habitable and convenient for People With Disabilities (PWDs).
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, sought the cooperation of all members of the public in achieving a Lagos free of discrimination against these set of individuals in their quest to access public facilities and use public transportation.
Muri-Okunola who disclosed this today at a stakeholders meeting with officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government in the transportation sector and other stakeholders at Alausa Ikeja, added that the State government had been engaging relevant stakeholders in a bid to further give meaningful life to PWDs and will continue to engage others whose actions would impact the lives of these category of people.
According to him, one of the ultimate intentions of government is to reduce or totally put an end to the rate at which PWDs depend on family members for assistance all the time.
“The benefits of making mobility easier and more comfortable and accessible for PWDs are immense. For instance, there is hardly any family in Nigeria that does not have at least one PWD member and if such member is not able to move about easily, he becomes dependent on other members for his livelihood, and this can be a burden on individuals” he said.
The Permanent Secretary also explained that “it is government’s sincere belief that, if accorded all the rights and privileges with an enabling environment, PWDs can be highly resourceful”.
The General Manager of LASODA, Dr. Babatunde Awelenje who also addressed participants at the event said that the essence of the gathering was borne out of government’s quest to integrate PWDs into the society regardless of the forms of their disabilities.
He said government has observed that one of the major challenges confronting PWDs is accessibility to public transportation and that is why government has taken it upon itself to continuously sensitize relevant stakeholders.
‘In addressing this situation, the buy-in of private individuals and bodies like the NURTW is very important’ he added.
Giving an insight to the State Special Peoples’ Law, Barrister Bolarinwa Salami, a Legal Officer with the Ministry of Justice said that a section of the Law states that operators of public vehicles should always assign seats at convenient places to PWDs, stressing that right to public transportation remains an integral aspect of the law.
He therefore urged members of the society to accord preferences to PWDs especially during emergency situations and in public places.
‘In implementing some aspects of the Law, the State Government has taken the first step that should be emulated by all. In all government owned vehicles especially BRT and LAGBUS buses, reserved seats are usually provided for PWDs in addition to reserved parking spaces in all government owned institutions.
In his closing comments, Salami said ‘provision of public facilities now has consideration for the needs of the PWDs always. I urge commercial bus operators and the general public to follow this example’.