We continue our breakdown of the DAPD bill with this episode that spells out what exactly the bill provides and sheds some light on how the society is receiving the provisions of the bill.
The Act defines a person with disability as:
- A person who has received a preliminary certificate of disability to have a condition which is expected to continue permanently or for a considerable length of time which can reasonably be expected to limit the person’s hearing, thinking, ambulating, descending, lifting, grasping, rising, and any related functions or any limitation due to weakness or significantly decreased endurance so that s/he cannot perform her/his everyday routine, living and working without significantly increased hardship and vulnerability to everyday obstacles and hazards.
- A person with long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
You need to know these about the new law:
- National Commission for PWDs: Section 31 of the Act states that the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities will be established and an Executive Secretary will be appointed as the head of the commission.
- Fine: The new law prohibits all forms of discrimination against persons with disability. Violating the law attracts a fine of N100,000 or a term of six months imprisonment for individuals. For corporate bodies, the law imposes a fine of one million naira.
- Transportation: It is prohibited, according to the new law, to discriminate against people living with disabilities within public transportation facilities. The public transportation service providers are to make provision for the physically, visually and hearing impaired and all persons howsoever challenged. This applies to seaports, railways and airport facilities. The Act prohibits persons who provide goods and services (whether or not for payment) from discriminating against disabled persons by refusing to provide those goods or services, or by providing such goods and services in a different manner or on different terms or conditions than they would otherwise provide to other persons. and are afforded a five (5) year transition period to comply. Particularly, airlines must ensure that: (x) their aircrafts are accessible to persons with disabilities;(y) they make available presentable and functional wheelchairs; (z) they provide assistance for getting on and off board in safe and reasonable comfort; and (xx)disabled persons are given priority when boarding and disembarking from the aircraft. Of great significance is the requirement for safety procedures to be translated in an accessible format appropriate for disabled persons present.
- Further, facilities with public parking lots are required to properly mark and reserve suitable spaces for persons with disabilities. The cars of such disabled person shall be properly marked with the necessary insignia. Subsection 10 (2) (4) made it clearer with reference to such services as staff bus, designated parking lots for PLWD and safety measures when it states inter alia that “Every public vehicle should have a functional audible and visual display of their destination within 5 years from the commencement of this Act.”
- It is worth noting that any person, organisation or corporate body that fails to provide the designated disabled parking spaces commits an offence and will be liable on conviction to a fine of ₦1000 (One Thousand Naira) for each day of default. It is also an offence for persons without a disability to park in the disabled parking space or for any person to intentionally obstruct the reserved space, and such persons shall be liable to a fine of ₦5000 (Five Thousand Naira) upon conviction.
- Education: The rights and privileges of disabled persons, according to the new disability law, include education, health care, priority in accommodation and emergencies.
- Right to charge offenders to court: The new law also gives Nigerians living with disabilities the right to file a lawsuit for damage against any defaulter, individual or corporate.
- Five-year transitional period: The Act provides for a five-year transitional period within which public buildings, structures or automobile are to be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs.
- Condition for approval of public structures: A government or government agency, body or individual responsible for the approval of building plans shall not approve the plan of a public building if the plan does not make provision for accessibility facilities in line with the building code.
- Offence for approving public structures not accessible to disabled persons: Also according to the law, any officer who approves or directs the approval of a building plan that contravenes the building code, commits an offence which is liable on conviction to a fine of at least N1million or a term of imprisonment of two years or both.
- Other privileges afforded persons with disabilities under the Act include priority in queues, the protection of the Government in light of their vulnerability in risky situations and humanitarian crisis and priority in the provision of accommodation where this is provided by schools, employers, service providers, government, organizations, etc. Contravention of this provision is also an offence, liable on conviction to a fine of N50,000.00 (fifty thousand Naira) or a term of six months imprisonment or both.
- Section 28 states that all public organisations are mandated by the law to reserve at least five percent of employment opportunities for these persons “the right to work on an equal basis with others and this includes the right and opportunity to gain a living by work freely chose or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open” Section 27 (1). This means that employers are under a duty to ensure that all persons irrespective of their disability are afforded the opportunity to apply for work and gain employment and the decision to not employ a disabled person should not be based on the disability. Where a person contravenes this provision, he is liable on conviction to a minimum nominal damage of N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand Naira). In the case of a company, it will on conviction be liable to nominal damages of a minimum of N500,000 (Five hundred thousand Naira) according to Subsection 2, of Section 27. Further, principal officers of the company in violation will also be liable to N50,000 (fifty thousand Naira) in damages. These damages are payable to the affected person with the disability.
Part 1 (1), (2) and (3) Prohibits discriminatory or differential treatments against persons with disabilities by any “person or institution in any manner or circumstances whatsoever.” It further provides for penalty for violation and grants the right to any disabled person whose right had been violated to institute a civil action against any “such person committing the offence or causing the injury, without prejudice to any conviction or acquittal.”
Part 111. This section of the Act states that a person with disabilities shall have the right to access the physical environment and buildings on an equal basis with others. It provides that a public building shall be constructed with all necessary accessibility aids and all necessary facilities that shall make it accessible for persons with disabilities. Instructive to note here is the definition of a public building which the law sees as “a building owned or used by government or government agency or a building available for the use of members of the public.” By implication, this will include private business buildings that serve members of the public including private residential buildings made available for residential purposes. The Act expatiates further when it sees accommodation in the context of housing to mean “residential or business accommodation.
Section 8 subsection 1 of the Act states as follows “ Subject to section 7, in the event of evidence of state of inaccessibility or barrier to access of a person with disability to the environment that he or she has a right or duty to access, he may, without prejudice to his or her right to seek redress in court, notify the relevant authority in charge of the environment of the existence of the state of inaccessibility or barrier to accessibility of the environment, and it shall be the duty of the relevant authority in charge to take immediate and necessary steps to remove the barrier and make the environment accessible to the person with disability.” Note that Section 8, subsection 2 (a) and (b) imposes damages of N10,000 on corporate bodies and N5,000 on individuals for failure to comply once such notice of barrier existence is brought to the relevant authority notice for each day that such barrier exists.
Part vii – This section provides for the right to first consideration in Queues and during emergencies for person with disabilities. This can be extended to staff accommodation, here it is expected that when such facility is provided for by organization to their employees, the Act states that persons with disabilities “shall be given first consideration.”
We hope that we all will work together to ensure that all the provisions of this bill become a reality in Nigeria.