We don’t carry bad luck – PWDs
• Mr.Alexander Bankole Williams (in sun glasses) demonstrating
how blind persons should be assisted to cross the street or board a vehicle
Some persons with disability in the Ashaiman Municipality have alleged that some Drivers and conductors refuse them access to their commercial vehicles because of their disability.
“They say disabled people especially blind people are bad luck or evil and if you allow them to board your vehicle you might either be involved in an accident, get low sales or experience a misfortune “ a 46- year old Winfred Nyarku told The Spectator in an interview on Monday.
He said on several occasions, he had left the house very early in the morning to travel but ended up waiting for hours at the bus stop or station without a bus to pick him thus leaving him with no choice but to abandon his trip on some occasions.
“When the conductors are loading and you get closer they give you excuses and this is so heartbreaking. “ he lamented.
Mr. Nyaku who said it was about time they had their concerns put across via the media stated that sometimes the hostility did not come from the conductors or drivers but the passengers who refused to let them board or sit by them because they shared the same opinion that they were an abomination.
He said sometimes luck smiled at them and they were well received by some drivers after a long wait and other times some passengers also intervened on their behalf which was so refreshing.
The “victim” who said he was not born blind but lost his sight three years ago to an eye condition said he was surprised at the development because he was once a driver who never treated disabled persons with contempt.
He called on the leadership of the various transport unions to educate their members well to handle disabled persons with dignity because they were humans like all others and anyone could find themselves in their situation.
Another person with disability, a 54-year-old former driver, Michael Deveer who was disabled in an arm and leg said a few weeks ago, he was severely injured while trying to cross the street because a driver had failed to stop for him to do so.
He said he tried to make an eye contact with the driver and signalled him of his intentions to cross but was ignored and when he suddenly saw the vehicle coming towards him, he tried to run but fell and in the process sustained various injuries.
He said there was the need for serious public education on how to treat disabled persons to prevent needless injuries and loss of lives.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the National Advocacy Committee for the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations, Alexander Bankole Williams condemned the development.
He said it was the expectation of the Association that, persons with disability boarding commercial vehicles should be allowed to get on board like any other person.
He said under the Persons With Disability Act 2006 Section 25, a motorist was obliged to stop for a person with disability who showed an intention to cross the road either at the pedestrian crossing or at an appropriately designated point for crossing by persons with disabilities.
Mr. Williams said also under Section 29, a person responsible for booking of passengers on a commercial bus shall reserve at least two seats for the persons with disability except where the bus was full without the reserved seats having been occupied, the driver or the person responsible for putting passengers on the bus may fill the reserved seats with other passengers.
He said ,it was unfortunate that many drivers appeared either ignorant or had simply decided not to do what they were lawfully expected to do and admonished them that any contravention of Sections 25 and 29 meant the person had committed an offence.
When this Reporter contacted the Welfare Chairman of the Ashaiman Branch of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Emmanuel Kofi Agbenyo, he said it was wrong for any driver to treat a passenger differently especially because of a health condition or related issues.
He said the development had not come to the attention of the Association but he would ensure that all their members who may be going contrary to the laws of the country were cautioned to desist from it and rather assist them even possibly to the point of crossing the streets at their various bus stops.
Mr. Agbenyo said it was wrong to describe any person who was disabled with negative words such as bad luck or an abomination because it was not a choice they made.
From Dzifa Tetteh Tay, Ashaiman.