World Bulletin/News Desk
With July 7 being the last day of a seven-year deadline for Turkey's public areas to be made disabled-friendly, a control unit comprising nongovernmental organizations and representatives of the Interior Ministry will be established to gather complaints from the disabled, and oversee and fine those municipalities that failed to provide access for those with disabilities.
Accessibility for the disabled remains a heated issue in Turkey. A law on the disabled was put into effect in 2005 and Turkey's municipalities were given seven years to comply with regulations regarding the country's 9 million disabled people. Law 5378 was passed, a regulation imposing obligations on municipalities to address deficiencies in the provision of access for people with disabilities. The law also aims to further integrate into society the 9 million people in Turkey currently living with disabilities and to resolve their problems related to health, education, employment and socialization.
One of the leading problems that people with disabilities face in Turkey is the lack of convenient transportation available. This issue was addressed in the 2005 law and municipalities had to make public transportation vehicles suitable for the disabled. The law also prohibits municipalities from purchasing vehicles that are not disabled-friendly while also urging them to modify their existing fleet.
The deadline came and went on July 7 and the Interior Ministry reminded municipalities and governor's offices of these requirements. The new control unit will be established to monitor the work of the municipalities and to mete out fines to those that failed to provide full accessibility to the disabled.
Şükrü Boyraz, the head of the Turkish Association of the Handicapped (TSD), said: “Even with such a long timeframe many municipalities have unfortunately done very little for those with disabilities. The seven-year deadline recently expired. Over the past seven years, municipalities were supposed to make public transport accessible for those with disabilities but many failed to do so. Now, a very important period is starting.”
“After July 7, once a disabled person presses charges against a public institution for not complying with the law, that institution faces the risk of paying a large fine. Their duties are clearly stated in the law,” he said. “Public institutions are responsible for making their facilities disabled-friendly or risk being penalized otherwise,” Boyraz also noted.
Providing more information about the control units that will be established, Boyraz said: “Those control units will be subject to the respective governor's offices and there will be five experts from various ministries and six experts from NGOs. These units will make decisions on municipalities via majority vote. When one disabled person files a complaint against a municipality for not being accessible enough, we will go to the area with experts, an architect and an engineer to examine it. The unit will decide how much more time the municipality needs in order to make sure that their facilities and public areas are accessible to those with disabilities. If the municipalities are found to have failed to provide such access, they will receive a TL 5,000 fine.”Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Temmuz 2013, 10:37