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23.05.2006 General News

Disability Bill goes through second reading

By GNA

Accra, May 23,GNA- The much-awaited Persons with Disability (PWD) Bill went through second reading in Parliament on Tuesday. The Bill is aimed at enabling PWDs to enjoy rights enshrined in the Constitution (Article 29 (8)) with the view to improving their living standings and mainstreaming their activities.

Moving the motion, Mr Kofi Addah, former Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment now Minister of Energy, said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government had "taken the bull by the horn by initiating the passage of the bill to make life worth living for persons with disability"

"Disability, it is said, is not the preserve of persons who have disability today. That is why it is incumbent upon all to make life bearable for persons with disability."

He said the Bill was very important as it offered not just legal protection but social measures intended to empower persons with disability economically, socially and intellectual.

Mr Addah said the Bill provided for accessibility to public places, employment, transportation, free, general and specialist medical care. The Minister said the passage of the Bill would lead to the creation of PWD desks at the various employment centres nationwide. He said it would bring into being National Council on Persons With Disability, which would oversee the implementation of some of the national programmes aimed at PWDs.

Mr Addah said the Bill had a transitional provision, which, conscious of the massive investment needed to make all existing public buildings disability-friendly provided for a 10-year moratorium. Mr Haruna Iddrisu, NDC-Tamale South, called for free education for all PWDs and that their children should also be assisted to acquire knowledge.

He called on the government to commit resources to make the objectives of the bill realized, adding that: "We should make the discrimination and social exclusion of the disabled a thing of the past."

Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, NDC-Asawase called for employment quotas for the disabled in both public and private places. He said companies that would adhere to this laudable idea should be given incentives as a way of encouraging others to offer employment to the disabled.

Mr Joseph Amenowode, NDC-Hohoe South said the psychological needs of children with disability should be looked at critically so that they do not grow to become disoriented.

He said a child with disability grows up with many questions on his or her mind like; "why am I different from the others, why can't I do the same things that my friends do?"

He asked that the Bill should aim at empowering PWDs to escape the dependency syndrome and not to draw them into it.

Mrs Frema Osei Opare, NPP MP for Ayawaso-Wuogon said disability should no longer be seen as a curse but as a medical condition that could be rectified at birth or managed in adulthood.

She called on PWDs to take up the challenge and opportunities that the Bill would offer to better their lives and image.

Mr Alfred Abayateye, NDC-Sege said; "This is the time for PWDs to harvest rain because the clouds are forming."

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