Long-Distance Coaches, Trains and City Buses Ignore Persons with Disabilities

It is not easy being a person with disability in Tanzania, but it gets even more difficult trying to access public transport

Public means of transport, especially up-country coaches, train wagons and urban commuter buses in Tanzania still lack embarking and disembarking as well as seating facilities to accommodate persons with disabilities.

That is among the concerns being raised by physically challenged people in the country.

They pointed this out during the International Day of Persons with disabilities, held here at national levels in Arusha.

The steep entrance and exit doors on passenger buses or train hardly consider people with physical disabilities or those traveling with their wheelchairs.

Bus operators in Tanzania import their equipment from Kenya, China, Sweden, South-Africa with only the standard specifications. The vehicles have no options for physically challenged travelers.

However, Godwin Kabalika the Country Director for Sightsavers Organization in Tanzania says they are still working to ensure that all public buildings, facilities and spaces grant wheelchair accessibility and parking.

As it happens for many efforts are currently being made to provide accessible facilities in as many new buildings as possible.

And so far, the wheelchair and disabled facilitations are already forming parts of the requirements of the Building Regulations.

For his own organization, the Sightsavers, Kabalika says they have a track record of 70 years globally and more than 50 years in Tanzania working to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote the rights of people with disabilities.

“But the other important thing is to ensure that people with disabilities become employable, we empower skills and also create links with potential employers for jobs,” said Kabalika.

As for the people with disabilities, Kabalika says there is also the issue of collecting and disseminating data on their numbers, problems and challenges in order to promptly address them.

Sighsavers so far works in five regions of Tanzania including Singida, Morogoro, Ruvuma, Manyara and Lindi.

Study reports indicate that persons living with disabilities in Tanzania are usually the poorest, less educated and most marginalized members of a community.

Out of the country’s population of 61 million, it is estimated that there could be 4.2 million other Tanzanians that live with a disability.

Such handicap is also said to have significant impact on the quality of a children education and social development, and usually limit an adult’s chance to secure employment opportunities or means of sustainable income generation.

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