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23.09.2005 Politics

Ghanaians asked to be patient with passage of Disability Bill

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Accra, Sept. 23, GNA - Mr Paul Okoh, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Employment, Social Welfare and State Enterprises, on Thursday called for patience, as Government made conscious efforts to implement the provisions of the Disability Bill when it was passed into law.

He noted that the provision would not see an overnight implementation, but would have to go through phases.

Mr Okoh was speaking at stakeholders' forum on the Disability Bill, organised by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) in Accra.

The forum was to create a platform for members of the private sector and especially the professional class, including engineers, architects and surveyors to be sensitised on disability issues in general, and to solicit professional input into the draft bill.

Mr Okoh observed that, much as old buildings would not have to be pulled down to be redesigned to cater for the disabled, it was necessary that builders put up disabled friendly ones as they rectified faults with old ones.

He said a consultative approach would help in facilitating the passage of the Disability Bill into law, and reiterated that the private sector had the added responsibility to make places like internet cafes, clinics and cinema halls to be redesigned and transformed to make them disabled friendly.

Mr Okoh called on stakeholders to be motivated by creating a friendly atmosphere for the disabled with a reminder that, non-compliance would attract penalties.

Mr Yaw Ofori Debrah, President of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled said the Federation's resolute demand for the passage of the Bill stemmed from the fact of Ghana being a signatory to international conventions, as well as the 1992 Ghanaian Constitution, which specified the provision of specific requirements for the disabled. He called on employers in the private sector to employ qualified disabled persons or train them to perform tasks in their work environment to positively impact on the lives of the disabled. Mr Jesse Clottey, Director of Technical Services of the Private Enterprise Foundation, said there was the need for more education on the Bill

He said issues on disability were more of human rights than legal issues, adding that, the Bill placed about 82 per cent of the provisions on the public, demanded ample budgetary allocations and support for the private sector to fulfil its requirement for the disabled. Prof. Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director of the CDD-Ghana, said the estimated 1.9 million Ghanaians with disabilities continued to rely on the goodwill and sympathy of governments and the public to exercise their rights to education, employment, housing and to overcome attitudinal barriers.