Three Ghanaian domestic airlines have barred a physically-challenged Nigerian, NDIFREKE ANDREW ESSIEN from travelling.
One of the airlines had also refused to refund Andrew-Essien, a fellow of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
The three airlines, Africa World Airlines, Antrak Air and Starbow Airlines told the Nigerian, who uses a wheelchair to move around that she could not board the plane from Accra to Tamale because of her condition.
“I live in Port Harcourt (Rivers State) where I run a non profit organisation. I secured an internship with an organisation in Ghana and I was posted to Salaga which is in the Northern Province of Ghana. The route via air, is Port Harcourt to Lagos; Lagos to Accra and Accra to Tamale. My flights were booked by an agent. On getting to the domestic airport in Accra, I presented my ticket to the airline—Africa World Airline— where my reservations had been made for the Accra-Tamale stretch, but was called aside by the airline official who told me I would not be able to fly with the airline.
“He stated that the airline does not fly with wheelchair-bound passengers, because they don’t have facilities for such a purpose. I told them it wouldn’t be a problem as I had experienced the general lack of facilities when it comes to persons with disabilites. I assured the airline staff that I was ready to work with the airline despite its inadequacy,”.
However, her entreaties were rebuffed by the airline which she quoted as saying, “We don’t fly wheelchair-bound passengers. It is not our policy.”
The Nigerian said she was forced to travel by road which took about 13 hours to her destination.
“I do not intend this (discriminatory policy) to stop me from achieving my aim. Persons with disabilities are faced with all kinds of issues when it comes to inclusion. This is a clear example of how, in the 21st century, Africa is still not forward-thinking in building a continent for all its citizens.”
Andrew-Essien said she was calling on Africa World Airlines and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority to reverse the discriminatory policy that prevents people living with disabilities from travelling. She also called on them to provide necessary equipment to travel with them.
All efforts made by our correspondent to speak to the airlines and Ghana’s CAA proved abortive as emails sent to them were not replied.
CREDIT: PUNCH NG