Delali Adogla-Bessa
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Urban transport in Ghana has not learned to serve people with physical disabilities

Accra, Ghana Social 19 May 2023

About 1 million of Ghana’s 30 million population has a physical challenge. Many of such people have been left with the most difficult option possible when it comes to navigating the increasingly more congested urban centres.

Sidewalks are cluttered with hawkers in some parts or poorly maintained and impassable for wheelchairs and the like. Above all, commercial transport vehicles in the form of mostly taxis and minibuses, which serve the bulk of the urban population, are not disability friendly.

When you throw in stigma against physically disabled persons, they are left with extreme difficulties when it comes to moving around urban areas. They seldom have access to minibuses, the cheapest and most popular form of transport.

For taxis, in the event a driver is willing to take them to a destination, they sometimes have to pay four times the fare either because able-bodied persons may not want to share the cab or the driver may prey on their desperation to get the extra money.

Physically challenged persons, especially in the lower income bracket who use wheelchairs, are disproportionately affected by the lack of inclusivity in the transport sector. Some are taken to be beggars and are ignored when trying to hail taxis. They are also likely to be paying significantly more than able-bodied persons to move around.

Ghana first passed laws to protect persons with disabilities in 2006 after years of advocacy. And while they mandate a disability-friendly transport space, that section of the law remains vague and does not prescribe sanctions for flouting it.

For this story, I will interrogate the lack of progress made in making Ghana’s transport sector and urban space more accessible to persons with disabilities, and build the story around wheelchair and tricycle users who have had to endure a city that operates like people with mobility needs do not exist

Also, worth probing is the absence of wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAVs) options on ride-sharing platforms in Ghana. In line with this, I will examine the operations of a private transport company that offers WAVs to gauge their patronage and cost.

For this story, I also plan to speak to:

-A representative from one of the associations that advocate for persons with disabilities in Ghana
-A representative of the biggest transport union
-A representative of Ghana’s Transport Ministry
-A representative from a ride-hailing company

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