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Fuel subsidy removal: Provide affordable, accessible public transportation system for PWDs – group urges FG



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A disability coalition under the auspices of Accelerate Disability Inclusion in Emergencies (ADIE) Forum has called on governments at all level to provide affordable public transportation system suitable for Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) across the country, to cushion the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday in Abuja, the Coalition urged the Federal, State and Local government to introduce this transport system from September 2023 to ease movement for PWDs.

Hike in transportation fare, food prices, healthcare services are some of the effect that followed the removal of fuel subsidy.

The forum said, “The federal, state, and local governments should introduce an affordable public transportation system that is accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) beginning in September 2023. This program should provide discounted or free transportation vouchers, passes, or dedicated transportation services to ensure affordable and accessible transportation options for PWDs.

“Accessible transportation should include buses with adjustable ramps and handrails for wheelchair users, signage and electronic display for directions with audio announcements for the benefit of the deaf and the blind”.

They said that though most Nigerians have been experiencing untold socio-economic hardship since the removal of fuel subsidy, Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) who are the worst hit considering their (PWDs) peculiarities.

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The coalition also acknowledged the positive side of the subsidy removal policy but raised concern that key group like the PWD community were not consulted in plans to mitigate the implications that arose from it.

Speaking on the palliative plan of the federal government, the group warned that if not properly implemented, the intervention might not get to the targeted population.

“The Accelerate Disability Inclusion in Emergencies (ADIE) Forum understands the federal government’s fuel subsidy removal policy, it is regrettable that it was done without broad consultations and accompanying plans to mitigate the difficult implications it is having on Nigerians.

“We have also observed that there hasn’t been much progress with the joint federal government and labor negotiations as many sub-committees have simply not been inaugurated in the last two months.

“We welcome the initial economic palliatives announced by President Bola Tinubu in his national broadcast on July 31, 2023. The broadcast provided hope that the government may address the hardship arising from the fuel subsidy removal policy.

“Some state governments have also announced palliatives. Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) are however mindful that if not well implemented, these economic palliatives will not reach the people who need them the most, as experienced in the past.

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“Organizations of persons with disabilities and non-OPD civil society organizations under the ADIE Forum believe that the “security and welfare of the people” must be the “primary purpose of government” as provided in section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution. This takes precedence over and above economic policies and other priorities that a government may have. We also believe that previous economic palliatives failed to reach Nigerians who needed them the most because of poor planning and corruption”, the group added.

They however called on the federal government to include members of the PWD community in the commitee set up to manage savings from the fuel subsidy removal policy.

“The representatives of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) should be made members of the joint federal government and labour negotiating committee on fuel subsidy removal and incorporated into the planning, implementation, and monitoring of economic initiatives, especially those setup to manage savings from the fuel subsidy removal policy. A good example of these initiatives are the economic palliatives recently announced by President Tinubu and state governors.

“The federal and state governments should initiate a stand-alone social protection intervention for persons with disabilities (PWDs), including establishing reliable databases of PWDs, food banks for an equitable distribution of economic palliatives to PWDs, and targeted financial assistance.

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“The federal government should reverse the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 5 percent by September 2023 and halt further increases in existing taxes, tariffs, and duties, as well as the introduction of new ones for the next one year to increase the purchasing power of Nigerians, especially PWDs.

“Government should conduct awareness campaigns to educate the public about the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, emphasizing the importance of inclusive transportation and the adverse effects of the fuel subsidy removal on the community of persons with disabilities. These programs should promote empathy, respect, and understanding to curb discrimination and foster an inclusive society.

“The federal government should ensure the full implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, particularly the 5 percent employment quota for PWDs and incentivize private and public sector employers to implement workforce inclusion initiatives for persons with disabilities like work-from-home options, flexible schedules, accessible workplaces etc”, the coalition added.

Members of the coalition are
Accelerate Disability Inclusion in Emergencies Forum (ADIE) Co-chairpersons, Grace Jerry and Christian Agbo, Jake Epelle (Member), Lois Auta (Member), Betty Mube (Women Leader, Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD), FCT Chapter) and Auwal Ibrahim Musa, (Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).

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