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Physically challenged residents cry out to state government, private sector

The people living with disabilities (PWDs) in Lagos State yesterday expressed their dissatisfaction towards the government and the private sector over the ill-treatment they alleged was being meted out to them.

According to a statement made available to our reporter during the World Disability Day yesterday, the Lagos State Chairman of the joint national association of people living with disabilities (JONAPWD), Dr Adebukola Adebayo, the State’s Employment Trust Fund had done next to nothing to give access to PWDs interested in running their private businesses.

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Adebayo, who acknowledged the state government’s efforts to provide gainful employment to hundreds of qualified PWDs in the state’s public and civil service, noted that it was unfortunate that most of the employed PWDs were not provided with assistive aids to enhance their performance at work.

He stated, “There is little or no implementation of special welfare support for disabled civil and public servants in the state in line with the provisions of the Special People’s Law and international labour practices. There isn’t any strategic partnership between the state government and the private sector to open up employment opportunities for the qualified teeming unemployed PWDs.”

Adebayo, who heads over two million PWDs in Lagos, added that within the last decade, nothing much had been done by the state government and the private sector to engage the very talented PWDs in the entertainment and sports sectors. “There is very little to show with regards to the provisions for the welfare of disabled athletes who represent the state in national and international sporting events.

A check on some of the sporting facilities in the state indicates a total lack of accessible para-sports infrastructure and facilities for use by disabled athletes,” he noted.

He disclosed that hundreds of thousands of children with disabilities in Lagos were still unable to attend school, saying, “The Inclusive Education Policy of the state government, endorsed by the Ministry of Education in 2015, has been virtually abandoned and unimplemented.

Inclusive public primary and secondary schools are not enough, not adequately staffed and poorly equipped, and lack the capacity to practise real and proper inclusive education.”

He also lamented how the disabled were suffering in hospitals. “All public hospitals are not accessible to PWDs, especially our women with disabilities, hence the high prevalence of maternal and infant mortality among women and children with disabilities. There are no sign language interpreters for deaf persons, while many health facilities are located in buildings that are not physically accessible to the wheelchair users and the blind. Public hospitals lack social workers and care-givers that can give support to PWDs whenever they need health services,” Adebayo declared.

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