Walking the Act with the New Footbridges (Ghana)
-The Persons with Disability Act (Act 715)
Anyone who is a huge fan of the famous, and one of the greatest musicians of all times, Stevie Wonder, or watched the news being read by that handsome young man – who is visually impaired- on eGhana television certainly believes in the statement ‘Disability is not Inability’. Persons with disability (PWDs) are not necessarily ‘stagnated’ because of their disabilities. They can also talk, laugh, sing an MOVE.
The 1992 Constitution of Ghana gives everyone the freedom to move. It does sound ridiculous this way so better put, the Constitution gives us ‘freedom of movement’. The Government of Ghana is helping make this possible through its ‘Better Ghana Agenda’ the Government has constructed roads and developed footbridges in different parts of the country. These roads and footbridges are expected to serve all Ghanaians despite their status. Government even went ahead to promise to provide the necessary structures to aid PWDs in moving freely on the new footbridges constructed from the Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout to Mallam Junction. There is none!
After carefully touring the various footbridges, the Network of Journalists for the Promotion off the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa (PROMOAFRICA) is reminding Government of its promise through a press release they issued last year. PWDs have for so many years being neglected, discriminated against and overlooked in policy and decision-making at the community, national and international levels. PWDs constitute 10% of the Ghana’s population and it is important to note also that they contribute to the economy. Though a minority population, PWDs have advocated strongly on both national and international platforms for policies and laws that will protect them and serve their interests. Once formulated or passed, they can hold Governments responsible for their commitments.
One of those commitments is easy accessibility to any public place. Section 6 of the Persons with Disability Act (Act 715) makes provision for all public places including schools, hospitals, theatres and of course footbridges, to have structures to enable easy movement and accessibility of PWDs. Once this is legal, it must not be breached so individuals, organizations and networks like myself and PROMOAFRICA have every right to hold Government by its words.
Individuals, communities and people in Government must remember that there is a thin line between disability and not living with one. Once concerns of the well-being of PWDs are mainstreamed into the building of new public structures and already existing ones, one of our key minority groups will live in comfort. The comfort of every minority group equals a healthy nation.