Sri Lanka NFG (LFRTD) organises an advocacy workshop onReport on the advocacy workshop on “Developing disability sensitivity transport infrastructure” held in Sri Lanka on 23 June, 2009
Ranjith de Silva
IFRTD Regional Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific.
An advocacy workshop on “developing disability sensitivity Transport Infrastructure” was held Colombo, Sri Lanka on the 23 June, 2009.
The Lanka Forum on Rural Transport Development (LFRTD), the local affiliate of the IFRTD, Development with Disability Network (DwDN), a local network of organisations and individuals working in the field of development of the People with Disabilities, Sri Lanka office of the British charity, Leonard Cheshire Disability South Asia Region (LCD SA) and Basic Needs, the local office of the British charity with the assistance of VSO, organised this half a day workshop at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The workshop was attended by high ranking government officials in the Transport and Social services sectors in Sri Lanka. Mrs. Viji Jegarajasingham, Secretary of the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare, Mr. S. Amarasekara, Secretary of the Ministry of Highways and Mr. Tilak Collure, Secretary of the Ministry of Transport were present. Mr. Ranjith de Silva, IFRTD Regional Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, chaired the sessions.
The following presentations were made by renowned personalities.
Mrs. Viji Jegarajasingham, Secretary of the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare, delivered the key note speech on the current situation on disability & transport in Sri Lanka and policies of disability sensitive infrastructure development.
Mrs. Catherine Liyanage, representing Leonard Cheshire Disability South Asia Regional Office (LCD SARO), gave a presentation on accessible public transport in Asia which consisted on international perspective on available disabled friendly practices from other Asian countries.
Dr. Neil Fernando’s presentation on behalf of Basic Needs, on the relationship between Transport and the mental health highlighted the issues of problems faced by the mentally disabled and disturbed patients getting access to treatment due to high transport costs involved. He also gave some of the appropriate steps taken by the Ministry of Health to overcome this difficulty by setting up “community assistance centres” at village level and taking medical care to the doorsteps of the patients.
The panel discussion followed was very lively and the panel consisted with some experts, policy makers and the presenters. It was agreed by the Secretary of the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare to form a Monitoring Committee to follow-up the recommendations proposed at the workshop and to work with the National Council set up for this under the Secretary.
· Particular attention should be given in to the disability access in the rural sector.
· Disability sector needs have to be mainstreamed in to the transport sector in SL.
· Needs of the senior citizens should also be considered as the aging population in SL will be very high in the next 15 years.
· Special pass system is made available for the PwD when using public transport.
· Locally adopted modifications to the available transport modes to suit the needs of the PwD.
· Steps should be taken to stop sexual harassment to young PwD by three wheel taxi drivers.
· Fixing of appropriate signs and route numbers of buses for visually handicapped persons.
· Community involvement and their attitude changes.
· Identify the barriers for implementing regulations.
· Architects, engineers and technicians to be trained and made aware of PwD friendly regulations.
· The “Monitoring” committee formed to meet the Ministry of Transport.
· Is it possible to have someone from the PwD sector sitting in Sri Lanka Road Development Authority (RDA) meetings?
· National Transport Commission (NTC) will import some buses with disabled friendly specifications shortly.
· LFRTD needs to follow-up disabled friendly proposals made to the draft National Transport Policy document with the Ministry of Transport.
· Need to find alternative equipment developed by using appropriate and intermediate technology and introduce them to Sri Lanka.
· A follow-up committee should be formed with reps from LFRTD, DwDN, LCD and Basic Needs to work with the National Council headed by Mrs. V. Jegarajasingham, Secretary of the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare.
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