The year has hardly started, we have packed away the Christmas decorations - and out on the shelves are the Easter eggs! Should we slow down the calendar or enjoy this crazy progression through the year? Certainly, one exciting event is the Paralympics, another month closer, and I'm sure those selected athletes cannot wait.
Being “UpFront”, allows me to mention a huge transgression of the dignity and the rights of people with disabilities who have been slowed down and grossly treated by SAA, through the change of their contractors on the passenger aid units at the airports.
Goodbye “Equity”, the passenger aid unit contractor, who we took years to train in the handling of people with disabilities and hello to “Swissport” who now have the contract, for a six-month period only, without any idea of how to handle passengers with disabilities, nor the equipment to do so. The detail of the transaction of the contractors is complicated, and anyone is welcome to contact me to hear such. The point is, our people are being handled like suitcases. The Human Rights Commission is going to take this up, SAA promise immediate solutions which don't happen and we sit as victims of choosing our national carrier as we should do.
I wonder, if the great Madiba was using a wheelchair, whether he would be transferred from an SAA aircraft into a catering truck, when arriving at one of our airports?
Once again, it seems that DISABLED PEOPLE, are never consulted upfront on such issues, which allows me to use the word “DISABLED”. Often it is the service we receive that disables us, it is the attitude of some people that disables us. It is not our impairment, which disables us, but the fact that small elements of society create environments which are almost impossible to navigate in, operate in and integrate into.
Surely the time has come for us to go to the streets in mass mobilisation, creating civil disruption, to show our dissatisfaction, where our dignity has been affected, and our rights transgressed. The Human Rights Commission has approached the disability sector, vowing to take on, the many issues of discrimination.
We need to see their teeth, not just hear their talk.
QASA will be aggressively taking up some of these issues.
I want to end off by saying “good bye” and “thank you” to Chris Reilly who served Rolling Inspiration well as an editor.