By Markson Omagor
The Minister of State for Disability and Elderly Affairs has vowed to ensure that priority points of service for vulnerable persons are established in public spaces.
Hon. Sarah Kanyike who took over office recently noted that a number of Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons are keeping away from some service points because they are privy to the accessibility and compatibility challenges.
“This is against the principles of universal rights. Therefore it’s going to be my agenda to ensure that priority service points are established for vulnerable people in places of public engagement,” Kanyike said.
She was on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 meeting commissioners from the Equal Opportunities Commission at her office in Kampala.
She implored the Commission to step up advocacy for some of the pertinent issues driving equal opportunities for all including designated seats for persons with disabilities and older persons on public means of transport and priority voting points for them as we head into next year’s general elections.
“We are going into polls but we should ensure that persons with disabilities and older persons are assisted and enabled to exercise their rights dutifully,” the Minister noted.
The Commission delegation led by vice person, Mr. Ojuko Joel Cox, said they had already engaged the Independent Electoral Commission on the plight of vulnerable persons and pledged to make a follow up to ensure that the polling systems are friendly to all.
On the issue of priority spaces on public means of transport, Ojuko said they were to review the design specifications of the buses that the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is planning to introduce to ensure compliance.
He however observed that there is need for behavioral change among the Ugandan public to respect priority allocations for the disabled and older persons.
“For example, we have previously inspected Pioneer buses and found priority seats but the community members seemed oblivious of their purpose. We therefore need deliberate advocacy from both State and non-State institutions to raise awareness and compliance,” Ojuko said.
The meeting also discussed the need to have sign language interpreters for all Television programs other than news broadcasts for equal dissemination of information.
“We have other very important programs on health, agriculture, education and other sectors that leave out people with hearing impairments,” Minister Kanyike noted.
The meeting was also attended by Commissioners; Hajat Malole Zaminah, Patrobas Sirabo Wafula, Julius Kamya and the acting Secretary, Jane Ekapu.
The Equal Opportunities Commission is a statutory body mandated to eliminate discrimination and inequalities against any individual or group of persons on the ground of sex, age, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, health status, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability, and take affirmative action in favor of groups marginalised on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them, and to provide for other related matters.