Disability-Friendly Airports: FAAN Pledges Improvement On Facilities

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, says it will improve access for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) at the nation’s airports and work with airline operators to upgrade amenities needed for air travel nationwide. 

FAAN’s assurances came during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development, PRIMORG, on Wednesday in Abuja.

A recent investigative report by TheCable exposed that people with disabilities are still having harrowing experiences at Nigerian airports as accessibility to facilities remains poor despite the inclusivity law.

Speaking during the programme, Head of Department, Public Affairs, FAAN, Alex Okosun, said the government establishment is not oblivious of the plight of persons with disabilities at Nigerian airports, which ranges from difficulties with accessing facilities, lack of aircraft carriers for people on wheelchairs, less-visible signage, among other issues.

Okosun, however, pledged that FAAN will look into all the challenges of persons with disabilities at Nigerian airports to improve service delivery.

“We (FAAN) listen to complaints, and we try to do our best to improve our facilities. We have a lot of people with special needs who come to the airport and engage our management.

“We listen to complaints of persons with disabilities, and we will try to do our best. We always try to improve our facilities. I promise that when we get back to the office, we are going to do a total report and make sure we pursue it to a logical conclusion. “

He added that FAAN will work with airline operators to ensure they upgrade their aircraft carriers to easily lift passengers on wheelchairs. He also revealed that FAAN is currently having projects to improve amenities at airports across the country but is constrained by government policies and bureaucracy.

Head of Department, Public Affairs, FAAN, Alex Okosun,

Similarly, Deputy General Manager of Customer Care at FAAN, Zuwaira Yahaya-Joe, stated that the PWD community is highly prioritized and working assiduously to improve facilities to suit air travelers with disabilities.

Yahaya-Joe assured that FAAN will “act on challenges of PWDs at airports across the nation and will ensure signage for PWDs at airports are made more conspicuous. She also urged Nigerians to take advantage of airport disability desks and report their challenges to customer care desks regularly.

“We have special passages for PWDs. We have a passage they can go through to the airport and board their aircraft, and concerning signage for people with special needs, we will make them more conspicuous and make sure we improve so that people are able to know where and where to go,” Yahaya-Joe stated.

Earlier on the programme, The Executive Director of the Center for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, David Anyaele, called on FAAN to conduct accessibility audits at airports nationwide to understand the difficulties PWDs are grappling with.

Anyaele lamented that PWDs continue to face discriminatory attitudes from airport staffers, poor access to facilities, inadequate information and other issues.

“I advise that FAAN conducts accessibility audits for people with disabilities using Nigerian airports. We’ve done our part by sharing with you, taking time to conduct a survey to audit regarding disabilities access to airports”.

He noted that “when people with disabilities want to use the airports, they struggle much more than people without disability, during this period.

“Key among the problems of PWDs are information dissemination and access to aircraft, which remains a nightmare to physically challenged persons. There is no mobile lift, which is available in other countries where if you want to board if you are a person on weight or crotches, they will use the mobile elevator, “Anyaele said.

Guests during the programme.

He commended PRIMORG for bringing the challenges of persons with disabilities at airports to public knowledge.

Public Conscience is a syndicated weekly anti-corruption radio program PRIMORG uses to draw government and citizens’ attention to corruption and integrity issues in Nigeria.

The program has the support of the MacArthur Foundation.

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