By Ere-ebi Agedah
The NationalCommission for Persons with Disabilities, NCPWD says efforts are ongoing to put in place an enforcement team to ensure that public buildings in the country comply with the minimal accessibility standards for its members.
This comes as the commission also expressed gratitude to the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba for being disability-friendly with the establishment of a disability desk at the Force Headquarters and all the 36 State commands and the FCT.
Speaking at a 2-day Validation Meeting of National Standard Code in Collaboration with Sight Savers International in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the Commission James David Lalu applauded IGP Baba for his support which has made the accessibility enforcement possible.
Lalu highlighted that accessibility also touches on transportation, building facilities and other different areas, noting that the task force will work closely with the Accessibility department of the commission to monitor accessibility standards of public buildings.
According to Lalu, this enforcement of accessibility standard is coming after the expiration of five years moratorium given to public buildings to make provision for accessibility for people living with disabilities. The five-year moratorium he said ends in 2024.
“Any public building that violates the Act establishing the Commission for Persons with Disabilities, NCPWD by not making standard provisions for accessibility for persons with disabilities will be sealed.
“Our banks will continue to make use of their digital doors to aid our accessibility. One of the commitments of the Central Bank of Nigeria was to officially write all the banks in this regard. Any bank that disobeys will have the CBN to contend with.
“We will do everything within our power to ensure that there is minimal accessibility standards for all our members. We also want to ensure that the necessary awareness is created.
“Again, within the remaining moratorium window, we want to ensure that the proper capacity building is made. We want them to have the information that there is a policy providing proper prescription of what accessibility simply means.
“Some of our engineers and architects leaving the universities do not have proper understanding of what accessibility means. There is over a hundred accessibility need for persons living with disabilities in public buildings” he said.
Lalu added that the necessary trainings will be provided for stakeholders in the building industry so that they can have capacity to provide standard accessibility plan for people living with disabilities.
He however stated that government offices, hotels and others who fail to make provisions for accessibility for people living with disabilities will be heavily fined, urging compliance.
Speaking Earlier was Country Director, Sight Savers International Dr Sunday Isiyaku represented by Lead Country Coordinator Rasak Adekoya who noted that the validation document will be useful in making Nigeria more inclusive and accessible for PWDs.
‘‘Key indications from the validation document is to ensure public facilities owned by government or individuals are accessible for PWDs’’.