Transport safety in various sectors of transport is a basic demand for all users, however, users with disabilities are not always taken into account which hinders them from contributing to society and accessing vital services like healthcare, employment, and education.
The ability to move and travel independently is fundamental hence the Flone initiative under a movement dubbed “Moving Barriers” engages persons with disabilities and their representative organizations to understand their public transport needs and priorities from their perspective.
Flone Initiative is a women-led Pan-African organization working towards the creation of safe, sustainable, and accessible public transportation spaces for women and vulnerable groups in Africa.
The organization on Friday in partnership with Gifted Community Center, also a non-governmental disability organization established for and led by youth with disabilities held a consultative stakeholder’s workshop at a Nairobi hotel to brainstorm on practical ways of promoting inclusive public transport systems.
The workshop brought together stakeholders from the National and County Governments, Cycling Groups, Organizations of Persons With Disabilities, Persons with Disabilities, Civil Society Groups, Public Transport Representatives, Ministry of Transport, NTSA, KeNHA, KURA, Private Sector, Religious leaders, Researchers, State Department for Gender, the Nairobi County Disability Inclusion Sector Working Group and the Moving Barriers Technical Working Group.
Speaking during the discussion, persons with disabilities without denying significant improvements made in the transport sector, highlighted a number of barriers they still encounter which include stigma, undignified handling, double charging, and language appropriateness with the Matatu operators.
They further described roads as still disability-unfriendly which they say denies them comfort while travelling.
Long queues and the lack of adapted toilets in the different transport sectors are among the challenges deterring their independent movement.
They recommended stakeholders remove obstructions on footpaths, design bus stops without steps, and provide clear, easy-to-follow route signs.
They further reiterated the need to enhance disability awareness for everyone engaged in transport from policy-makers to bus drivers, and all road users.
Deaf persons in particular asked the stakeholders to ensure all road instructions/writings are put in Kenyan Sign Language for easy communication.
The stakeholders while responding to some of their concerns assured PWDs of their commitment and support further urging them to always reach out and voice their diverse needs so that they can be actualized by various sectors.
At the same time, the National Transport Safety and Authority (NTSA) Manager of road safety programs, Samwel Musumba lauded the move by Flone initiative to involve them in matters of transport which has helped in streamlining the sector.
While speaking to Signs TV, the NTSA official observed that with the current increase in the number of road crashes, many people have joined the disability community hence inclusion is vital in the current society.
As part of disability inclusion, Musumba revealed that the agency has updated its driver training curriculum which has special classes for persons with disabilities at a subsidized fee.
Further, he said the transport agency is working closely with counties through committees inclusive of PWDs which will help them push their transport agendas directly.