BY AUSTIN OGWUDA
ASABA — PERSONS with disabilities in Delta State, yesterday, blocked the Asaba/Benin highway, causing gridlock for hours. They were protesting alleged neglect by the state government.
As a result of the protest, some motorists were stranded as both sides of the road were barricaded.
Chairman of the Association of Persons with Disabilities in the state, Mr. Isaac Obruche, who led the operation vowed that his members would remain under the sun or rain to press home their demands.
According to him, “we embarked on this having failed to have an audience with the governor since his assumption of office and several issues affecting us have not been addressed.
“The issues are free medical health care for persons with disabilities; our bill to establish a commission for persons with disabilities in the Delta State House of Assembly is lying there unaddressed; we have the issue of SURE-P in the state in which persons with disabilities were totally excluded at state and local government levels in Delta.
“As I speak, it is only the chairman of Ndokwa East council that has released N1.5 million to empower our people in that locality. The remaining 24 councils have done nothing regarding the SURE-P.
“Also, the Ministry of Health has not attended to applications from our members for the past two years and as a matter of fact we lost five of them last year. There are some of them with very sympathetic situations that had applied for medical attention but not granted. All efforts to meet with the Commissioner for Health has proved abortive, different messages to his cell phone have not been attended to.
“In the transport sector, in Lagos for example, issues of transportation of persons with disabilities have been addressed and they also have a scheme where persons with disabilities are employed to earn a living. We also have members who are graduates here.
“Of course we have confidence in the governor, no doubt he is a listening governor but the problem we are having here is that those that are representing us are not doing what they are supposed to do.
What do you make out of an able bodied person being a Special Adviser to the governor on Physically Challenge matters? The rehabilitation department of the ministry of women affairs where we fall under is under the management of person who is not physically challenged.
“We have persons with disabilities in the civil service. Will it be out of place if one of them is in charge of that office? All efforts to see that the issues are addressed have proved abortive. Countless letters seeking audience with the governor have not yielded fruit.
“Now that we have come here, the only thing that would make us to leave this place is when the governor comes here to address us.”
The Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr. Ovuozourie Macaulay later addressed them and pacified them to leave the highway as government would address the issues raised. However, they were still there at press time.