Parliament takes dim view of treatment of disabled persons

Mr Joseph Osei Owusu

Mr Joseph Osei Owusu

THE First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, has described as unfortunate the purported blockade of two disabled persons from accessing the House last Friday.

 

The Bekwai MP said it was not the culture of Parliament to prevent disabled people from accessing the Chamber of the House and that the House was open to all Ghanaians.

 

Two disabled persons who were with the Right to Information Coalition were on Friday stopped by security operatives from entering the public gallery because they could not stand to acknowledge the Speaker when he rises.

 

Parliament, through its Public Affairs Directorate has released a statement describing the development as unfortunate and promised to investigate the matter.

 

In a short remark after some members had made statements to mark International Day of Persons with Disability, Speaker Osei-Owusu assured that “every effort would be made to facilitate people with disability who wish to visit Parliament in future”.

 

Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has proposed for what he called a disability job policy to reserve ten per cent of all public and private jobs for disabled persons.

 

This, he believed, would help address the unemployment challenges disabled people face in the country.

 

In a statement on floor of Parliament in Accra yesterday Mr Ablakwa said the policy should be extended to cover state sponsored job initiatives like the Nation Builders Corps.

 

“This 10 per cent policy should also reflect within our internal political party organisation and must also guide political appointments by successive presidents.

 

“Our main political parties have women organisers, youth organisers, Zongo coordinators but no disability organisers – this does not promote inclusiveness,” he noted.

 

“Mr Speaker, we should be moving away from the tokenism where only a few reserved jobs such as operating done lifts and manning selected toll booths are reserved for (persons with disabilities) PWDs,” he added.

 

As part of greater inclusiveness, Mr Ablakwa also proposed that all official publications such as budgets statements, state of the nation addresses, acts of Parliament, brochures for state events and other publications of state be published with their corresponding Braille versions to enable visually impaired persons follow national discourses.

 

In a different statement, the Deputy Minister for Environment, Patricia Appiagyei bemoaned the living condition of disabled persons in the country.

 

She said, “Disability needs not be an obstacle to success. However, currently, most of our disabled persons are found begging on the streets, living under poor conditions with limited access to social amenities.

 

“Persons with disability in Ghana are often regarded as unproductive and incapable of contributing positively to the society instead of seeing them as “resources.”

 

Noting that there were many disabled persons breaking bounds and causing change to the pride of many Ghanaians, the Asokwa lawmaker wants deliberate government efforts to address challenges disabled persons were facing.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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