Monday, 16 June 2014
Federal Government to distribute N15bn buses for physically challenged.
The Federal Government has commenced the distribution of buses to ameliorate the transportation problems of 22 million persons living with disabilities in Nigeria.
Under the first phase, eight buses were delivered while another eight would be released to them before the end of the month.The vehicles were part of the Mass Transit Scheme of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program of government and costs about N15 billion.
The Spokesperson of SURE-P Committee on People Living with Disability, Mr. Chike Okongwu, told journalists after the handover of the buses by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim on Friday in Abuja, that all disabled persons would be conveyed to their destinations free.
He said, “SURE-P has invested a total of N15 billion in the Mass Transit Scheme; that is N8.9 billion in the 2012 budget and N6.1 billion in the 2013 budget. However this money is not given to individuals. SURE-P didn’t give money to these guys. The money is managed by the Infrastructure Bank which is an expert in managing revolving loans because the N15 billion is actually a revolving loan.
“We have had a percentage of recovery, people have been paying back. SURE-P is looking foreword to giving out facilities through the Infrastructure Bank to the riverine areas where they can purchase mass transit canoes and other mass transit schemes available in other parts of Nigeria. It is going to be limited to only land for now.
“It is a company policy for the Disabled Peoples Mass Transit Company Limited that anybody with a disability will board and travel on the vehicles for free. This is a step in the right direction but we should know that persons with disabilities are not looking for sympathy; disability is not inability.”
According to him, it is not that the disabled cannot afford to pay for the transport fare adding that the company has decided to “incorporate the principle of being our brothers keeper because a man with disability is one opportunity short” adding, “what we want to do is to give more empowerment to persons with disabilities.”
Okongwu therefore called on President Goodluck Jonathan to quickly assent to the Bill for people living with disabilities with an empowerment commission so that the Act for the rights of persons living with disabilities will be properly enshrined in the constitution “and the people with disabilities will have all forms of access: to vehicles, public buildings, education, others.”
Anyim said that the buses were part of the efforts by government to provide more support and empowerment to the disabled. “My office is available to you all. Anything we can do to assist the members of disabled peoples association to ensure that your desires are achieved would be done by government. If there is any problem facing any of you the government is ready to attend to it. Government will always be willing and available to work with you to actualize your dreams”, he stated.
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman, Board of the association, Monsignor (Prof.) Johnbosco Akam, thanked the Jonathan’s administration for the buses given to them and called for continued support from the government. PUNCH.