Fedoma petitions BT City Council on accessibility of facilities

Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (Fedoma) has petitioned Blantyre City Council (BCC) complaining of lack of accessibility of all facilities and services available or provided to the public.

Fedoma has since given BCC 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.

In the petition handed in to BCC Chief Executive, Ted Nandolo on Monday at BCC head offices, Civic Centre in Blantyre, after a short demonstration, Fedoma complains that the 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.

Fedoma members at Blantyre City Council Office
Fedoma members at Blantyre City Council Office

In the petition signed by Fedoma’s Executive Director, Mussa Chiwaula, 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”.

Speaking after receiving the petition, Nandolo said the issues raised by Fedoma were not new and assured the institution that his office would take up the matter seriously to ensure the raised concerns are addressed.

Nandolo said the council was currently enforcing the existing by-laws to ensure that all newly constructed buildings accommodate the needs of disabled people.

“The issues raised here are not new and be assured that my office is working on the raised concerns. I will also take up the matter with the town planning committee as well as the ministry responsible for planning and development,” said Nandolo.

He however, lamented the 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.

In his words, Chiwaula said Fedoma would be monitoring Nandolo’s sentiments to see if the authorities would live by their words in eliminating barriers affecting people with disabilities.

“The courts, the police, the shopping malls, and some banks which are public, have been constructed in such way that are not accessible to persons with disabilities which contravenes with the law. As a result of this situation, persons with disabilities cannot exercise their human rights as indicated in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Malawi,” complained Chiwaula.

Fedoma has since urged BCC to take measures in addressing the issues of inaccessibility of all public buildings and services taking into account the needs of persons with disabilities.

Nandolo receiving a petition from Fedoma
Nandolo receiving a petition from Fedoma
Fedoma demo
Fedoma demo
Fedoma members at Town hall
Fedoma members at Town hall

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