Defying CM’s orders: Buildings in K-P still without ramps, elevators

Physically challenged persons bemoan lack of facilities

Saba Rani December 02, 2016
A rally held to raise awareness on the International Day of Disabled Persons. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: “Before I was paralysed, I never realised the value of ramps, but now they have become a luxury for me,” said Irfan Wazir, who was paralysed in 2010 in a road accident.

At a time when disabled persons are leading normal lives in developed countries, people with special needs are forced to live invisible lives in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: There are no outdoor facilities for them.

The world observed International Day for Persons with Disabilities while the handicapped persons in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa bemoaned the utter lack of facilities.

Despite the chief minister’s orders for constructing buildings facilitating disabled persons, no steps had been taken anywhere in the province for providing elevators and ramps.

Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak had written a letter to instruct the provincial social welfare department in this regard on January 30, 2014.

The letter had stated that no new construction should be allowed without following the accessibility code and the social welfare department and Provincial Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons should be taken on board before approving any new construction in the province.

The letter had also urged the authorities concerned to convert existing buildings accessible to disabled persons, besides calling for implementing two percent quota for people with special needs in government departments.

Criticising the lack of elevators or ramps, Irfan Wazir remarked, “Even government offices are not accessible to disabled persons.”

“There are hundreds of government buildings in the province, but except for a few hospitals no other structure caters to the needs of the disabled persons. This means that we can only visit hospitals.”

Reminding that the government had promised Rapid Bus Service with facilities for disabled persons, Wazir said that there was still no sign of such a bus service.

Handicapped persons also faced problems in education in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

There are 2,800 schools in the province and just 38 catered to the needs of disabled children and only two were high schools. There is no college or university in the province with even vestiges of ramps.

Footpaths are also unfriendly for the physically-challenged.

Chief Executive of the Paraplegic Centre in Peshawar Syed Mohammad Ilyas agreed with the assertion that most buildings in the province were inaccessible to people with special needs.

“They are without ramps and not built in accordance with international standards,” he said

Another disabled table tennis player Zainab Barkat said: “Even sports complexes where hundreds of disabled sportspersons visit every day for practice have no ramps or elevators,” she said.

“I feel extremely vulnerable when climbing stairs even if there are two or three steps. I wanted to finish my higher studies but avoided going to college because of inaccessibility,” she said.

Director of the provincial social welfare department Mohammad Naeem Khan said: “We will try to build new buildings to facilitate disabled persons.”

When asked to comment about lack of washroom for people with special needs in sport complexes and elsewhere, he said that there was no need for a wheelchair in washrooms.

He denied that disabled persons in the province faced an unfriendly environment, saying that his department had worked a lot in this regards.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2016.


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