In Nigeria, discriminatory policies, facility deficit make air travel nightmarish for the disabled. A plethora of guidelines exist to defend persons with disabilities in Nigeria, only that airline operators will not respect them in their dealings with special needs travellers. Gbenga Ogundare stories.
IF visually disabled Oluwakemi Odusanya experienced any foreboding about a hitch-free air journey enroute Abuja on Saturday, 19 December, 2020, it was absolutely not about the shame and trauma the journalist would at some point suffer in the custody of Dana Airline with whom she was scheduled to fly into Lagos.
The on-air persona at Unilag FM and Administrative Secretary for the Nigeria Affiliation of the Blind (NAB) started to perception a looming hassle when her flight on Dana 9j356 was not announced like other flights at the scheduled 5:50 pm.
“19:00 came, no flight relating to Dana 9j356 was referred to as. I was alarmed,’ she griped, ‘got to the counter, and the officer on responsibility, said we ought to be client, that the running aircraft had a technological challenge and has been resolved.”
The announcement came at 8 pm even though, but not from the typical caricature voices that get in touch with out as a result of the loud speakers–urging travellers to carry on to board their flight. As an alternative, Odusanya informed this newspaper, “the officer explained to every person who was ready for the flight to arrive alongside one another and then declared: ‘We are sorry, the Dana 9j356 flight to Lagos has been cancelled due to technological problems.’”
And so the trauma commenced for Odusanya and other passengers. “There was I,’ she groaned, ‘blind and helpless about my future go immediately after staying still left stranded by Dana Airline.”
It was the first time Odusanya would be travelling by air afterall, so she would not have identified that the Dana flight to Lagos scheduled for 11 am that Saturday essentially departed Abuja at 7 pm, in accordance to checks by this newspaper.
All of her entreaties to make Dana Airline supply her with an lodging and protection while her flight was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day fell on deaf ears. “The Dana Air official didn’t budge, even when I spelled out to him that I had a frail wellbeing that will not allow for me slumber outside the house in the chilly as they desired us the passengers to do.”
“He claimed there was nothing they could do. Following so substantially banter with the officer at earlier 9pm soon after he contacted number of persons, he stated there will be flight to convey men and women to Port Harcourt, following which they could move forward to Lagos.”
But the shock and trauma was not about to conclusion for blind Odusanya. Dana Airline was at it again on Sunday, December 20. “The Dana officer reported he could not uncover our boarding go that was handed to him the night just before. At this instant, I felt pained I cried at the peak of insensitivity and nonchalant perspective exhibited by the Dana officers.
“After about two hours of waiting, just one of the officers advised my aid to follow him to the duty manager to see if one thing could be accomplished about it.
“On finding there, the woman informed her that “Hope she is not a wheelchair consumer?’ My support responded in the damaging. The supervisor even further pointed at my mobility cane, asking what about that? My help flagged and mentioned, NO!”
It was not till following the Dana formal ascertained Odusanya was not a wheelchair consumer that she rescheduled her flight for a Dana 9j356 flight for Lagos departing Abuja at 3:35 pm on Sunday.
All over again, Odusanya did not know the Dana 9j356 flight was originally meant to depart Abuja by 11 am, but was delayed as typical till 3:35 pm.
Component 19 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Restrictions frowns at that variety of institutional irresponsibility and insensitivity as displayed by Dana Air actually.
Portion 22.214.171.124 states that, “for domestic flights, when an functioning air provider moderately expects a flight to be delayed past its scheduled time of departure, it shall offer the passengers with cause(s) for the hold off inside 30 minutes soon after the scheduled departure time.”
The guidelines also stipulate the pursuing reliefs for travellers in the celebration of a delayed flight:
“(i) right after two hours, refreshments as specified in part 19.10.1 (i) and phone phone calls, SMS and E-mails as specified in portion 19.10.2
(ii) over and above a few (3) hrs, Reimbursement as specified in Segment 19.9.1(i) and
(iii) at a time over and above 10pm till 4am, or at a time when the airport is shut at the point of departure or closing place, the guidance specified in sections 19.10.1(iii) and 19.10.1(iv) (lodge accommodation and transport)…”
But Dana Air was not performed with its violation of the Aviation Regulation and its vulnerable travellers for the evening. A short even though following Odusanya was left stranded and discarded devoid of an offer of payment and relief, a different passenger with disability would undergo a a lot more grievous abuse in the custody of Dana officers. Chike Okogwu, a passenger on wheelchair whose 7:20 pm flight from Abuja to Lagos was delayed until 9:05 pm devoid of prior recognize was stopped from boarding by a Dana Air formal.
In accordance to Okogwu, he was barred from boarding at the Abuja airport mainly because a “new policy” forbids them from carrying people today with wheelchair at night.
As a final result, he missed a professional medical appointment to handle what he explained as a ‘debilitating ulcer condition’.
“I got enraged by their nonchalance and insensitivity. And sure, weakened their counter,” he affirmed, insisting that he was provoked immediately after getting denied his rights.
Sharing a photo of his bleeding hand and blood on his boarding move, Okogwu twitted: “It’s turning bloody in this article in Abuja Airport. If we die, we die. I say no to discrimination of individuals with Disabilities in Nig…
“I met with all their situations as exhibited on their site be sure to. Bought 2 Biz Course Tickets as you can see. Pls in no way enable anyone trample on your legal rights. I am only disabled by a messed up technique but incredibly extremely exposed, cerebral & compassionate.” He wrote through Twitter.
A push statement issued by the airline a working day just after the incident also corroborated Okogwu’s declare.
“…When our Duty Manager found him in the midst of the upsurge of travellers, approached him and politely described to him that as a make any difference of policy, comfort and ease and protection of our attendees, we do not have Particular Travellers at night…”
This newspaper scoured as a result of the airline’s site though, but nowhere was these kinds of plan stated. Rather, the airline said a commitment to present guidance to the disabled.
Although Dana Airline likes to insist individuals with lowered mobility like Odusanya and Okogwu are addressed with regard by the organisation, the Centre for Citizens With Disabilities (CCD) thinks usually. According to the CCD Executive Director, David Anyaele: “With this new plan by Dana Airline, a new pattern of discrimination towards citizens with disabilities has been introduced in the aviation field in Nigeria.”
Drilling as a result of the airline’s push assertion by means of a phone discussion, Kingsley Ezenwa, Dana Corporate Communications Supervisor tried using unsuccessfully to conceal the information of human rights abuse Okogwu and other susceptible passengers ended up made to endure whilst hoping to fly with the airline.
“There are a few airways that will not carry people with minimized mobility, but not Dana Air,” Ezenwa described to this newspaper. “The only reason we will not have a passenger with decreased mobility is if he is not travelling with a companion. This is because the claimed passenger may call for urgent notice on board while the crew is chaotic. So we hope his companion to attend to him pending when a member of the crew is no cost to do so.”
If Ezenwa’s troubleshooting is anything to go by, then Dana Airline did not have any cogent reason to quit Okogwu from generating his excursion past Sunday. Okogwu experienced a companion– both equally of them booked to fly with a initial course ticket each individual on the evening he was denied boarding.
Exact same for the lady on wheelchair who was denied obtain to board Dana Air 9J 353 on Sunday, 13 December, 2020 at the MM2 Lagos Airport. The girl experienced her sister with her as a guideline in the training course of the flight. Still a Dana Air employees, in a online video footage insisted she would not be boarded mainly because she was on wheelchair and Dana Air does not have the facility to cater for her.
Section 19.4.2.of the NCAA regulations states that “Any other travellers denied boarding besides in accordance with Section 19.4 of the regulation is considered to have been denied boarding involuntarily. Even if the travellers accept the denied boarding. As a result, the carrier is obligated to shell out if the passenger is involuntarily denied boarding …”
All that can at any time go wrong with entry rules
Access has all along remained a teething trouble for each the cripple and the blind seeking to journey by air in Nigeria. A extensive the greater part of the airports are not accessible to this neighborhood in fact.
And so in the absence of cell wheelchair lifters to aid obtain to and from plane, the wheelchair-ridden traveller, for instance, will have to be heaved unquestionably off his chair, and carried into the plane just before remaining deposited into their seat.
This practical experience is not only uncomfortable, but also dehumanising.
Recounting her worst embarrassing times as a youth corps member in 2018, visually disabled Tomisin Adeyefa, now a broadcaster, recalled how Aero Contractors, one more airline, stopped her from flying into Lagos enroute Sokoto due to the fact of her visual incapacity.
“I experienced presently bought my ticket only to be informed Aero Contractors could not enable me in the plane for the reason that I experienced no companion travelling with me.”
“It grew to become a heated argument and I remained implacable until eventually the airline returned my dollars to me. I inevitably left Sokoto by means of Arik Air.”
Seemingly, Equally Dana Airline and Aero Contractors breached section 14 of the Discrimination towards People with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 which offers that all airlines functioning in Nigeria shall make certain the accessibility of their plane to individuals with disabilities make out there presentable and functional wheelchair for the conveyance of individuals with disabilities who have to have them to and from the airport assure that persons with disabilities are assisted to get on and off board in basic safety and realistic ease and comfort and make certain that folks with disabilities are accorded precedence although boarding and disembarking from the plane.
Which is not likely to transpire whenever before long, however. Except if the Federal Ministry of Aviation offers precedence attention to employ part 14:2 of the Discrimination versus Folks with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018.