The national government has been put on the spot for designing and constructing all the Lamu jetties without considering persons with disabilities.
Jetties in Lamu play a very important role since they are the only entry and exit points into and out of Lamu town and other adjacent islands.
It should be noted that 99 per cent of movement and transport by Lamu residents is done at sea.
The jetties are therefore a crucial element since they aid the transfer of passengers and cargo to and from marine vehicles and water bodies in the region.
Addressing the public in Lamu however, the Lamu County Disability Movement officials expressed disappointment with the manner in which every jetty in the county is built in a manner which is not favouring persons with disabilities.
Jetties found in Lamu include the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Jetty, the Lamu Mangrove Customs Jetty, the Mokowe Customs Jetty, Manda Airport Jetty, Mtangawanda Jetty, Shella Jetty, Kizuke Jetty, Jeti ya Ng’ombe, Matondoni Jetty, Kipungani Jetty and other smaller jetties in Kizingitini, Faza and Kiunga.
The movement wants the restructuring of most of the jetties in the county to enable them to serve people with disabilities.
Through their Spokesperson Ahmed Bingwa, they called on the county and national government to ensure special amenities are put in place in order to enable disabled persons to access and use public premises.
Mr Bingwa said it is unfortunate that the government continues to ignore the presence of persons living with disabilities as many of the public premises including the various offices and the jetties in place are put in a manner which cannot accommodate the disabled in one way or the other.
“It’s high time that the government thinks of reconstructing our jetties to favour the persons living with disabilities here in Lamu. I have received complaints from many of the physically challenged brothers and sisters who say they can’t climb the steep stairs of our jetties. Our jetties and even the various public offices here in Lamu should be designed in a way that favours the disabled. There should be alternative pathways for us to use,” said Mr Bingwa.
Hindu Abdallah said it was outright unfair and discriminatory for the disabled community to be denied their rights to access public premises due to the way they are constructed.
Ms Abdallah said in some circumstances, they are forced to pay able-bodied people to carry them to various offices in the county or to be assisted to use the jetties.
“It’s not just uncomfortable but unfair as well. Many of us just keep away from the jetties and even the public offices for fear of embarrassment since we can’t climb in. Some of us are blind, some are deaf while others are crippled yet no measures have been put in place to include us,” said Ms Abdallah.
Yusuf Bakari said there was a need for both the county and national governments to ensure that planners and contractors of public premises put into consideration the special needs of people living with disabilities in the county.
“Most of the offices here are in storeyed buildings. We have had a tough time trying to climb up staircases in order to either access the jetties or the public offices in Mpeketoni, Mokowe, Hindi, Witu and Lamu towns. All this is because of our physical conditions. Let’s planners be instructed to ensure they consider the disabled during their designing and construction of the various amenities here,” said Mr Bakari.
They also called for the need for special communicators in public offices and especially hospitals to assist the deaf, blind and dumb access services.