Persons with disability could soon start enjoying friendly and accessible public transport following a sustained campaign to mainstream disability in the entire public transport system. The ministry of transport is at advanced stage to roll out bus rapid transit within the Nairobi metropolis which it has assured come with disability friendly amenities.
The Commission in partnership with UN-Habitat, and the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) has collaborated on a project titled “Access and Mobility: whose goal is to promote the development of a transport system that is inclusive and accessible to all in Kenya, including persons with disabilities. The project will engage stakeholders in discussions to embed the concept of universal accessibility in the formulation of transport policies, regulations and practice.
Speaking during the launch of the project that featured a procession by persons with disability and a showcasing of a modified public service vehicle in Nairobi, Chairperson Dr. Joyce Mutinda noted that public transport services have been discriminatory and less inclusive of the needs of the most vulnerable urban populations largely due to lack of a policy framework and incentives for inclusivity. The said the situation is worsened by the lack of integration of transport with national development priorities such as accessibility, safety, pedestrian walkways and special needs for mobility of older persons and those with disabilities.
“Operators especially drivers and conductors are not sensitized to the plight of these people given that there are reports that Persons with Disabilities often wait at a bus stops for more than 3 hours with most public transport vehicles commonly known as Matatus either shunning them or demanding that they pay twice the standard fare”. Said Dr. Mutinda.
Chief Administrative secretary in the Ministry of Transport Chris Obure however said the new Bus Rapid Transit will allow wheel chairs to be used to board the bus through an automated ramp. It also has a wheel chair dedicated seat and features priority seating for elderly, sick and pregnant mothers.
“As we shepherd the transition of the transport sector to BRT, we are keen to incorporate best industry standards by giving priority to companies that integrate existing operators and establishing an employment framework that provides incentives for retention of existing staff”. Said obure.
Obure asked the Commission to audit the urban transport system and make practicable recommendations to the Ministry of Transport and the County Governments to accelerate integration of principles of equality and inclusion in the sector.
During the procession members of the Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association, (KEDIPA) led by their Chairperson Hon Timothy Wanyonyi, got an opportunity to test a public service bus owned by the Kenya Institute of Special Education which was fitted with an automated ramp allowing seamless access to persons on wheelchairs.