AWA controversy: Planes should be compliant with PWDs- Otiko

Africa World Airline (AWA)  is under fire with threats of legal action after the local airline was accused of discriminating against a physically challenged person.

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA is calling on the victim, Rita Kriba to take legal action against the company.

Programs Manager at OSIWA, Afia Asante Asari-Kyei is also asking all other victims of such incidents to initiate a class action against companies who continuously and with impunity discriminate against Persons With Disability.

The Gender Minister Otiko Afisa Djaba is even more incensed by the conduct of the airline.

At the launch of a short course on access to justice for persons with disabilities, the minister said: “planes should be compliant with persons with disability.”

She does not understand how a PWD will be denied access to boarding a plane because she is physically challenged.

“It is time we remove our discriminatory lenses and look at the most vulnerable,” she said.

She added the argument about where to keep her crutches was needless because if the airline was minded it could easily have kept the walking aid of Rita Kriba till she got to her destination.

The comments have become necessary after Rita Kriba, was prevented from boarding a Kumasi-bound flight on Saturday.

 

Rita Kriba, 30, who has been living with disability for the past 20 years, felt discriminated against when the staff of the Africa World Airlines (AWA) refused her boarding space on the flight to Kumasi Saturday morning.

“They took my passport first and told me that I should wait for them and that I will be leaving at 7:00 …So when it was 7:00 and I was supposed to check-in I was told to stand aside and that I can’t send my crutches inside the plane. So I told them I am a person with a disability, how can I go and leave my crutches. They said ‘no, crutches are not allowed,” she recounted to Joy News.

She found the conduct “embarrassing.”

The Airline on Monday issued a statement saying Rita Kriba was prevented from boarding because of “structural limitations” of the aircraft.

The statement said because of the limitations the aircraft is only able to carry certain categories of wheelchair passengers.

“…As such it is boldly written at all our sales point in our terms of carriage that we only accept WCHR category (Wheelchair passenger who needs assistance on only the ramp).”

The statement further clarified that Rita Kriba, through a third party bought her ticket from a Travel Agency (Afrowings) and did not state the condition of the traveller.

She also did not notify the airline 48-hours before the Saturday flight as required by the international general rule with persons with reduced mobility.

According to the statement, the victim was asked if she could climb the stairs by herself without being assisted but she said she could not, making her ineligible to be on the flight with the structural limitation.

“We, however, apologise without prejudice to Madam Rita Kriba and assure her steps have been taken to close such service gaps in our operations,” the statement added.

News Reporter

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