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Accessibility is not a choice but a humanitarian right for persons with disabilities

Mohammad Yaaseen Edoo

Accessibility is not a choice but a humanitarian right for persons with disabilities

On 3rd December 2016 the world celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). The theme of this year celebration was: “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want” Since 1992 the United Nations proclaims this day to celebrate the ability, respect, dignity and human rights of all persons with disabilities in the world. Since then remarkable progress has been made in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in the society in many parts of the world.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a set of 17 aspirational “Global Goals” to transform the world in a better place to live in. Before SDGs we had the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The goals were from 2000-2015 while the SDGs from 2015-2030. For the first time in the history of these goals, 5 goals out of the 17 goals persons with disabilities has been mentioned compared to the MDGs where persons with disabilities were completely left out. To include persons with disabilities in the SDGs has been a very long, diligent and consulted work process of various meetings, conferences and seminars to sensitize people on the importance to have persons with disabilities included in this global objective.

Member states of the United Nations were convened last year in September 2015 to learn on the SDGs and promise to work in its implementation in their respective countries for the betterment of every human being and at the same time to protect the environment. All the governments including the government of Mauritius have the responsibility to implement these goals. All these 17 goals must be implemented and due considerations must be given to persons with disabilities in our country.

Undoubtedly, it is an undeniable fact that accessibility remains an important issue which must be addressed and implemented to allow the independence of persons with disabilities to move freely on their own using an adapted accessible public transport. Mobility of persons with disabilities will allow them to go to school, go to work, enjoy a leisure life among others. Thus Goal 11.2 says by 2030; provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.

Sadly in our beautiful island of Mauritius an adapted accessible transport for persons with disabilities are not yet available. The Ministry of Public Infrastructure through the National Transport Corporation has purchased the semi floor buses which are not adapted to persons with disabilities for all types of disabilities and in particular to the wheelchair users. Provisions have not been made under such buses to accommodate wheelchair and instead the government needs to buy the low floor buses just like those in Great Britain, Australia and in other parts of the world.

As a Disability Activist and in the name of all persons with disabilities I make a humble and urgent appeal to the Right Hon. Prime Minister of Mauritius Sir Anerood Jugnauth and the Hon. Minister of Public Infrastructure Nando Bodha to work on the road infrastructure of our country to ultimately import low floor buses which will be of great help to all persons with disabilities. This will allow the implementation of the various articles found in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which is also a landmark important international human rights treaty to ensure the respect and dignity of all persons with disabilities in the world.

Mohammad Yaaseen Edoo
Disability Activist
Queen’s Young Leader

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