Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeNEWSDisability Rights Advocate Calls for Action Against Discriminatory Airline Policies

Disability Rights Advocate Calls for Action Against Discriminatory Airline Policies

In a passionate plea for justice, Barrister Chukwuka Bertrand Ezewuzie, Chairman and CEO of the Anambra State Disability Rights Commission, has urged the Minister of Aviation, Barrister Festus Keyamo, to intervene in addressing discriminatory practices by Nigerian airline operators against persons with disabilities (PWDs). Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Ezewuzie highlighted the urgent need for adherence to international standards and regulations to ensure the rights of PWDs are upheld in air travel.

Ezewuzie’s call to action stems from recent incidents of discrimination faced by PWDs at the hands of Nigerian airline operators. He cited his own experience of being denied boarding on a flight from Abuja to Enugu solely because of his blindness, as well as the case of Mr. Chidi Olujie, a Deaf man who was similarly denied boarding on a flight from Abuja to Uyo. These incidents, Ezewuzie emphasized, are clear violations of federal law and constitutional rights.

Expressing his disappointment and frustration, Ezewuzie recounted the ordeal he faced at the hands of IBOM Airline, where he was informed that their policy dictated that PWDs could only board flights if they hired and paid for a travel companion. Despite Ezewuzie’s extensive travel history and frequent flyer status, he was unjustly denied boarding and left stranded at the airport without recourse.

In light of these injustices, Ezewuzie urged Minister Keyamo to enforce the implementation of International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules, which prioritize the rights and accessibility of PWDs in air travel. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between airlines, regulators, and advocacy groups to ensure that all stakeholders work together to eliminate barriers to travel for PWDs.

Highlighting the significance of IATA’s resolution on passengers with disabilities, Ezewuzie underscored the need for better processes for booking and information exchange, as well as enhanced training for airline staff and ground handlers. He called for dedicated ramp personnel to handle mobility aids safely and advocated for the rights of individuals with disabilities to travel with certified assistance dogs.

In conclusion, Ezewuzie appealed to IBOM Airline to cease discriminatory practices, compensate victims, and issue a formal apology to the 35 million Nigerians living with disabilities. He emphasized that inclusive and accessible air travel is not only a matter of legality but also a moral imperative that must be upheld by all stakeholders in the aviation industry.

As the fight for disability rights in air travel continues, Ezewuzie’s impassioned plea serves as a rallying cry for justice and equality for all persons with disabilities in Nigeria. It is now incumbent upon Minister Keyamo and other authorities to heed this call and take decisive action to ensure that the skies are truly open to everyone, regardless of ability.

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