Fedoma to sue Blantyre City Council for negligence

Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (Fedoma) says will take legal action against Blantyre City Council (BCC) for failing to address concerns the organization raised in its petition two months ago.

In October, Fedoma petitioned BCC complaining of disabled people’s lack of accessibility of all facilities and services available or provided to the public.

BCC was given 30 days to respond to the raised concerns, which emanate from the unavailability of specially designed structures and features in public buildings to aid people with disabilities to have equal basis, access to the structures in reference to Article 4 Section 8 of the Disability Act.

However, Fedoma officials have revealed that were contemplating of suing the council for neglecting the petition despite its Chief Executive, Ted Nandolo promise to treat the issue with urgency.

Kachaje: Review by-laws

Head of Programs, Action Amos disclosed in an interview that the City Council ignored their concerns despite several reminders.

“They never responded to our petition. We made several follow-ups but there has is no response. We have finally written them a final letter,giving them up to December 17th before we take legal action,” explained Amos.

He said they were being compelled to take up the matter with court of law as it is a legal matter backed by the 2012 enacted Disability Act.

Fedoma’s Chairperson, Simon Munde said any of the City Council’s by-laws contradicting the Disability Act have to be regarded null and void.

“Any piece of legislation that contradicts Disability Act or the United Nation (UN) Convetion on issues concerning disability, automatically becomes null and void, therefore as Fedoma we are mandated to take legal action,” said Munde.

Fedoma has been complaining that newly constructed buildings are not incorporating features especially designed to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.

“The concept of ‘universal design’ and ‘equality in access to physical environment’ is not being adhered to. Plans are approved without taking into consideration the need of persons with disabilities. This creates obstacles that impede persons with disabilities’ full enjoyment of their right to access,” reads part of the petition.

In the petition, the organization further complains that there is no effort by BCC authorities to enforce amendments to buildings in the City of Blantyre just like any city in Malawi where other authorities have made no any improvements.

Reads the petition: “Blantyre City Assembly, just as any city rate payer persons with disabilities are denied access to your offices due to the inaccessibility of these offices. Those that have made efforts to maneuver around these barriers end up causing further injuries to themselves”.

But Nandolo had said the issues raised by Fedoma were not new and that the council was currently enforcing existing by-laws to ensure that all newly constructed buildings accommodate the needs of disabled people.

Nandolo however, lamented failure by institutions and individuals to adhere to the stipulated by-laws which call for incorporation of features such as Ramps when constructing building and other structures to ensure people with disabilities are able to access them.

Meanwhile, Minister for Disability and Elderly Affairs, Rachael Kachaje has called upon City Councils to review their by-laws to accommodate the needs of the disabled people.

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