As part of efforts to ensure inclusivity and promotion of the rights of its citizens, Anambra State Government has directed all its offices to henceforth submit plans for any building it is undertaking to ensure full compliance with the dictates of the State Disability Rights Law, as it concerns building infrastructure.
The directive was made known on Friday by the Chairman of the Anambra State Physical Planning Board, ANSPPB, Barr Chike Maduekwe, when members of the Board of the State Disability Rights Commission led by the Chairman, Barr Chuks Ezewuzie called on him in his office in Awka.
The visit is part of the advocacy efforts of the Disability Rights Commission’s Board, to get the buy-in of stakeholders in the state, into the State Disability Rights Law, to ensure its smooth implimentation.
Various sections of the Law, which was signed into law by the previous state administration under Governor Willie Obiano, stipulates the criteria to be met in terms of accessibility features, before designs and plans for buildings can be approved in the state.
Addressing the ANSPPB Chairman, the State Disability Rights Commission Chairman, Ezewwuzie explained that the visit represents the commitment of the Commission to ensure that the Law is fully made operational.
According to him, the engagement with critical stakeholders was to impress on them the importance the need to make it mandatory for all infrastructure to be handicap-accessible.
He recognized the Chairman of the ANSPPB as a man of integrity who has brought about sanity in the building industry, noting that his commission will work with him, not just to provide the Code but also to look at the buildings’ designs and plans before they are approved.
“Subsection 8 of Section 23 of the Disability Rights Law talks about accessibility features which public buildings designs must possess before they are approved.
“The Interpretation Clause of the State Disability Rights Law explains that public buildings are buildings owned or used by government or made available for public use, such as shopping malls, residential buildings, churches, mosques, among others.
“What we are looking at is for every building design to have a Certificate of no Objection, CNB, which simply means that all requirements in the code are met in terms of accessibility features.
if the design conforms with subsection 5.
“We are confident that your Board will ensure strict compliance with the provisions of the Code and we will be ready to provide guidance when needed.
In their various presentations, the Chief Media Officer for the Disability Commission, Miss Chidinma Ajemba, a sign language interpreter with the Commission and other emphasized the point on other infrastructure used by the public including roads, bridges and many others to be enabled in a way that persons with one form of disability of another can access and use them.
According to them, Anambra state had set the pace in terms of passage of the Disability Rights Law and must continue to show the light in terms of how government and the society should related with the disability community.
Responding, the ANSPPB Chairman, Barr Maduekwe described the visit as an eye opener, to many things the state should be doing to give members of the disability community a better sense of belonging.
He applauded the initiative to domesticate a Law that comprehensively accommodates the rights of Persons living With Disabilities, noting that with the Law, a lot of best practices will be adhered to.
“Your visit today is an eye opener, and we will run with it, because there are a whole lot of things we need to begin to do differently in terms of how infrastructures are built in the state.
“Mr Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo has always maintained his vision of building a liveable and prosperous smart mega city. This homeland should be one that every member of the society must be able to access and benefit from, irrespective of social status, physical disability and otherwise,” he said.
Barr Maduekwe assured that he will draw the attention of the State Excutive Council to critical aspects which the Commission is seeking attention on, expressing optimism that with the disposition of the governor to the well-being of every Anambra resident, the Commission’s demands will get favourable attention.
He also said in the interim, every government building must submit their building plans to the agency for approval, to ensure compliance with the Law and other building codes.
“This we need to do immediately to ensure inclusivity.
“The wonderful work the Commission has done through its leadership headed by Barr Ezewuzie, is quite amazing and I am not surprised at what the Commission has been able to accomplish for persons living with disabilities.
“We will work together and I know that when the governor sees the need we are bringing to the fore, he will approve them.
“These are things that will improve the quality of life of Anambra people. So your visit here is an act of God and we will act accordingly,” Maduekwe mantained.
The visiting delegation from the State Disability Rights Commission had the opportunity to present the ANSPPB Chairman with copies of the Disability Rights Law, as a courtesy during the visit.