The Coalition of Disability Organisations (CODO) has presented recommendations for enhancing Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) mobility and communication facilities access at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Mr Nwachimerieze Ejikeme, Coordinator of CODO in Enugu State, made the presentation on Tuesday during an interactive session between the PWD community in Enugu State and management of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Ejikeme said that travel information at airports should be provided in accessible formats (e.g. large print, bold print, Braille, audio and visual, as well as availability of sign language interpreters to assist deaf passengers); thus, announcements in verbally and visually format.
He called for the provision for inclusive information at booking point for PWDs to indicate their status and special needs for the airline/airport officials to make necessary arrangement to meet their needs.
“It should be mandatory for ground staff and cabin crew to give necessary/timely assistance to PWDs who may need them (e.g. assistance with the use of wheelchair, assistance in boarding, assistance in getting into the aircraft seats, assistance in handling luggage, etc).
“Special training should be organised for airport and airline personnel involved in the provision of assistive services, including check-in staff, boarding staff, cabin crew etc on the needs of PWDs and how best to meet them,” he said.
Ejikeme, who is the Chairman, Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria (SCIAN), Enugu State Chapter, urged the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to urgently conduct an audit of all airports in Nigeria for disability facilities and provisions.
“This should be done with the full involvement of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and other stakeholders. Procure and deploy mobile wheelchair elevators to support boarding and disembarking of physically challenged passengers from the aircraft.
“Procure and deploy disability friendly buses at the airport tarmacs as most of the buses at the Nigeria airport tarmacs are not accessible to physically challenged passengers,” he added.
Responding, Mr Emeka Okafor, Head, Customers Service of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, lauded the PWD community in Enugu State for making germane recommendations that would help to improve the services of the airport.
Okafor, who spoke on behalf of the General Manager of the airport, noted that before now the government while constructing the airport had made provision for access ramps for easy movement of our customers on wheelchairs and our staff are always in the fore-front of assisting PWDs.
“We have toilet design to accommodate PWDs; the airlines ensure that PWDs are given the right of first service to board and we ensure that our on th ground staff gives PWDs the best attention they can get.
“However, we still know that there are more rooms for improvement and taking up some of your recommendations and trying to meet them will improve our overall services in the long run,” he said.
The project on enhancing access to airports for PWDs in Nigeria is implemented by CODO in collaboration with Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Hope Alive for Possibility Initiative (HOPE), and Spinal Cord Injury Association Nigeria (SCIAN) with support from Disability Rights Fund.
Source: Flowerbud News