Persons with disabilities have been complaining about the lack of facilities to meet their special needs at airports across the country. This happens as business and leisure travellers groan over decaying airport facilities, JUSTICE OKAMGBA reports
About one billion people with disabilities are estimated to be travelling by air globally, according to the International Air Transport Association. For many of them, the travel experience is a nightmare as most airports have no provision for their special needs.
In Nigeria, airports were constructed without facilities such as consumer desks, special toilet facilities, and flight display systems specifically designed for people with disabilities. PWDs have described the lack of provision of special facilities for them as discrimination against them.
The challenges of accessing onboard toilets and managing special accommodation requests have continued to create a challenging environment for travellers with disabilities.
While Nigerian airports often provide wheelchairs, some international airports have gone further to implement technology solutions and smartphone applications to assist people with low vision. Airports like Boise Airport in the USA and Vancouver International Airport in Canada have introduced virtual reality training, specifically designed for autistic passengers.
Experts said such an innovative approach helped individuals with disabilities familiarise themselves with the airport environment, ultimately reducing stress during travel.
The PUNCH reported that people with disabilities find Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos more stressful than Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, which are the two busiest airports in Nigeria.