A physically challenged woman who was reportedly prevented from travelling on African World Airlines’ flight from Accra to Kumasi on Saturday, has threatened to seek redress in court.
Rita Kriba, a fellow of the United States government-sponsored Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI), alleged that officials of AWA prevented her from boarding their aircraft due to her disability.
Narrating the incident on TV3‘s Midday Live on Monday, Ms Kriba said she had a scheduled meeting on Saturday morning in Kumasi and a plane was booked for her to attend the meeting.
But upon arrival at the airport, the officials told her she could not travel with her crutches.
“I had a meeting in Kumasi which is scheduled at 10:00 in the morning. So, a flight was booked for me to go to the airport, so I got to the airport around 6:00 in the morning. They took my passport, looked into it and asked me to sit down until it is time 7:00.
“While I was there, some colleagues of mine at the programme who were going to Kumasi also came. [But] when it was time for me to board the plane, I was told I can’t send my crutches in. I said I’m a person with disability, I use crutches to walk, why won’t you allow [me] send my crutches inside? They said ‘No’, it is against their company policy,” she narrated.
She said her colleagues tried to explain that they could aid her to the plane so that her crutches would be placed somewhere on the plane for her to use when she gets to Kumasi but the officials at the check point declined, still insisting that it was against the company policy.
Information from the Airlines’ website says the company transports wheelchairs and other assistance devices for personal use at no charge, and offers enplaning and deplaning when the issue has been raised during ticket purchase.
Rita said she felt very embarrassed by the act and feels it is an infringement on her human rights.
“I think I have the right to, if I am a person with disability, and I can afford a plane to wherever I want to go. I think I should be given the opportunity. I was so down and did not even know what to do,” she bemoaned.
Aide to Rita and a disability right advocate, Henry Osabutey, said there was no avenue created for them to file formal complaints because the officials were “so rude”.
He also added that when they called the customer help line, the “gentleman” said he was not aware of any policy that stops Rita from travelling with them.
Mr. Osabutey has, however, indicated that their lawyers are working on suing the company and getting the right compensation for Rita and also to serve as a deterrent because, according to him, Rita’s case is not an isolated one.
Meanwhile, African World Airlines has declined to speak on the matter.
The domestic airline firm has asked to be given “a few minutes”.
By P.D Wedam|3news.com|Ghana