PWDs push for accessible public buildings

The National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) has called on the government to look at enhancing its  construction infrastructure and making them more available to individuals with disabilities.

The NCPD Executive Secretary ; Emmanuel Ndayisaba informed members of the Social Affairs Committee that while important improvements have been made in enabling the motion of individuals with disabilities, some public  structures are still difficult to navigate for most of them.

Murmurs were heard in the room when Ndayisaba pointed out that even the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA),  which was tasked with drafting the building regulations directed at enabling individuals with disabilities, continues to operate from premises without any of them.

“We feel that the government needs to take the lead in implementation. A number of its buildings do not facilitate people with disabilities and even when we inspect some private buildings, we are always challenged by the same issue,” he said.

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Ndayisaba said that the introduction of legislation and penalties has pushed many individuals into public building  construction to adhere to the strict rules.

“In 2016, we sat with the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Rwanda Housing Authority and together, we reviewed the regulations in place and this time added penalties. It has since turned around the whole process and the improvement is obvious,” he said.

He said the authorities are obliged by law not to issue a building permit unless the building plan shows the facilities of the disabled.

“There are people who dodge this because it comes with additional costs. Whoever gives them a permit is the issue and some people have been fired over it. We have fines ranging between Rfw50, 000 to Rfw5, 000,000 depending on the size of the building. Sometimes we enforce the closure of a building until changes have been made,” he said.

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MP Eugene Mussolini, who represents individuals with disabilities, recommended the regulators to consider  extending the range of the classifications of individuals with disabilities who can access these houses.

“To be honest, a lot has been done and we are very grateful that there are so many avenues through which people with disabilities are being supported. However, I suggest that the scope of disability is broadened because it seems  to me that the physical is what is being looked at but what about hearing or visual impairment?,” he said.

MP Marie Florence Uwanyirigira asked the government to look into offering more assistance to organizations that  take care of kids with severe disabilities.

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“There are institutions where children with severe disabilities are abandoned by their families, making them their full responsibility. Most of them are overwhelmed. The government needs to look into ways to support them,” she said.

Over the years, the government has supported people with disabilities through its National Employment Program  (NEP-Kora Wigire).

The assistance is channeled through BDF and the cash goes to Umurenge Savings Credit and Co- operatives that give the loan to beneficiaries.

As of late last year, the program had benefited 239 cooperatives with over 11,029 employees

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