PWDs decry inaccessibility to government offices in Mombasa

Coast Civil Society Network for Human Rights Chairperson Zedekiah Adika joined by PWDs during the protest at Bima Towers in Mombasa./COURTESY

Persons with disability (PWDs) are protesting over being unable to access several government offices in Mombasa County due to lack of disability friendly infrastructure.

Through civil society organizations (CSOs), the group lamented of not being able to access some buildings which house government offices, including Uhuru na Kazi building where the National Council for People with Disability offices are situated.

“We the Civil Society Organizations present here under banner of Coast Civil Society Network for Human Rights, in solidarity with people with disability join hands to speak up on inaccessibility of government offices by people abled differently in Mombasa,” said Coast Civil Society Network for Human Rights Chair Zedekiah Adika.

The group listed four buildings within the county which house several national and county government offices. The buildings are:

Uhuru na Kazi building
Uhuru na Kazi building./COURTESY

The Uhuru na Kazi building houses several government offices including the National Council for People with Disability, Coast Regional Commissioner and the Department of Migration.

The group claims the 9-storey building which had been operating with three lifts currently has only one operational lift.

Bima Towers building
Bima Towers building in Mombasa./COURTESY

The 16-storey Bima Towers located along Digo road houses the National Registration Bureau, Regional Survey Office, Land Adjudication and Settlement, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Education, County Attorney, Environment and Waste Management and Tourism offices.

“In the last three years the building has been operating without lifts, neither does it have a ramp, disadvantaging PWDs from accessing services,” said Adika.

Betting and Control building located in Kizingo.

The 6-storey building hosts several county government departments including the Human Resource and County Public Service Board, the Office of the County Secretary, Department of Youth, Gender, Sports, Department of Children and Ministry of Interior and Coordination department of probation and aftercare services.

“The building has one entrance accessible to a wheelchair user but the lifts within the building are not working, neither does it have ramps,” said Adika.

The Mombasa County Assembly building

The group claims that even though the building has been renovated several times to fit in the new needs of the County Assembly, it does not comply with the accessibility requirements for the PWDs.

They say they cannot access the assembly during the proceedings or participate in any motion in the the assembly. They also cannot access the office of the clerk to submit their memoranda or letter of consideration.

Haki Africa RRO Mathias Shipeta with PWDs during the protests./COURTESY

Speaking during the protests, HAKI Africa’s Rapid Response Officer Mathias Shipeta said access to government services was everyone’s right.

“The rights of persons with disabilities have been safeguarded under Article 54 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, which guarantees the PWDs are entitled to reasonable access to all places, public transport and information,” said Shipeta.

Through the CSOs, the group called on treasury to allocate money for the repair and renovation of the government buildings to be disability friendly.

“The national and county governments should with urgency resolve the impasse of which building should be under devolved government to ensure proper allocation and stop taking parties in circles,” said Adika.

They also want the County government of Mombasa to renovate buildings housing their departments to be disability friendly, not to disadvantage PWDs from accessing services.

“The county government should prioritize resources in mainstreaming the county assembly block to be accessible to all persons in the region,” he said.

The group said even though a meeting on the matter was held with the County Commissioner on 13th June 2022, not much has been done to avert the situation creating barrier for PWDs to access government services and enjoy their freedom of movement.