Bertha Badu-Agyei, GNA
Koforidua, Dec. 13, GNA - Many government departments and agencies in Koforidua are not accessible to Persons with Disability (PWD), because they are located on storey buildings which have no ramps or elevators to provide access to PWDs using wheelchairs.
A survey conducted by Ghana News Agency revealed that institutions such as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Department of Social Welfare were all located on storey buildings which have no ramps to give access to PWDs.
Other places visited were the Koforidua Office of the Electoral Commission (EC), the Graphic Communications Group, the Ghanaian Times, the Ghana News Agency offices- all located on storey buildings and as well they had no ramps to provide access to PWDs.
Apart from these public institutions, most private organizations located on storey buildings have also made no provision for PWDs using wheelchairs to access.
The survey revealed that where a story building has provided ramp, it only gave access to the first floor of the building and so if a PWD wish to transact business at the other floors he or she had to rely on the benevolence of others to get there or have to draw the attention of the officer in charge to come down.
Meanwhile Article Nine (9) of the UN conventions on the right of PWDs and the Disability Act 2006 states that the “owner and occupier of a place to which the public has access shall provide appropriate facilities that make the place accessible and available for use by PWDs”
Again, Section 7 of the Disability Act 2006 “says a person or institution that provides service to the public shall put in place the necessary facilities that make the service available and accessible to PWDs”.
Mr Samuel Agyekum, the Eastern Regional Coordinator of the Ghana Society of the Physically GSPD), in an interview with GNA, said it is a pity that in spite of the existence of the Disability Act which enjoins public institutions to provide access to PWDs, the challenge still remains.
He said all the public institutions such as CHRAJ, NCCE and the Department of Social Welfare and EC were institutions whose services are needed by “both the able and disabled persons- so why are we not given due consideration”.
Mr Agyekum said anytime a PWD wanted to access any of these institutions they had to stay at the ground and beg others to inform the officers in charge and “depending on the officer, sometimes we stay there without the due attention given to us”.
He said apart from ramps to facilitate the movement of PWDs using wheelchairs, it is difficult for those using crutches and other walking aids to climb to the third and some fourth floors to transact business adding that sometimes they needed to do such transactions personally to ensure privacy.
Mr Agyekum said PWDs continue to suffer discrimination and stigma because they always have to rely on others to do something for them and such a situation places them at the mercy of others leading to discrimination and stigma.
Meanwhile some of the officials of the above institutions told GNA on anonymity that, they were state buildings which had been built long ago without making provisions for PWDs, whiles others also said they were renting the facilities from private persons and so had no choice to do any alterations.