Mr. Speaker, I think the passage of this Bill is something which is long overdue and as such we have assembled here today to ensure its passage. We are fulfilling article 29 of the Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, I will be dwelling on the
area of transition in my contribution, that is the ten-year period after which this law is supposed to properly take off. Mr. Speaker, I would like to sound a note of caution regarding its application because the passage of the Bill is one thing and the imminent legal battles to follow after the passage is another, that is after the transitional period of ten years have elapsed, and its likelihood of opening the floodgates.
Mr. Speaker, I have heard from certain
quarters that people are advocating for the reduction of the transitional period from ten to five years. Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw our attention to this issue that here in this country, dating back from independence, one thing that has been very synonymous with our development has been our non-maintenance culture.
Another issue which is also of much concern has been that the Government or the State has been the sole provider of almost all places of assembly and services, from schools to stadia. As we speak now there is only one private stadium in the country, the Obuasi one, and we are all aware of the problems we are grappling with regard to having access to it.
If we take hospitals, all these are provided by the State with only the
generosity of few missions. Therefore, over ninety-five per cent of these facilities are provided by the State, and we are all aware of the economic health of the country. Therefore, the period that has been envisaged, ten years, with my experience, especially in Britain -- Until three years ago, when I became a Member of Parliament, I was a review or appeals lawyer for Newham Castle in Britain and I want to share a little with you.
Mr. Speaker, after the transitional
period elapses, the likelihood of this floodgate which I have talked about with the enforcement of a right regarding disability is no mean case. Many a time, you go to the court and the counsel is supposed to provide such facilities as council flats and whatnots, access to these areas, stadia and others. The real test has always been the reasonability test. Has the council or the nation succeeded in making provision to appreciable standard? And many a time, the case has gone against the State because the provision of these facilities is not an easy thing to be carried out.
We are all aware of funfairs that greet the commissioning of projects like building of hospitals and others. The reality is that it may be estimated that such a project should be carried out within two or three years. But we end up taking five, six, seven years. Therefore, I am sounding a note of caution that regarding the transitional period, it should rather be extended.
The State is the sole provider of these facilities and once the transitional period of ten years elapses, the legal battles would commence. Once it has been enshrined in the Constitution and Parliament has gone to the extent of passing the law to enforce it, definitely whoever goes to the court will be having a field day.
It is not like a situation of criminal negligence where judges have been very passionate or kind enough by not implementing to the last letter. That of this enforcement regarding the disability issue is one I see as hundred per cent straightaway, hence the imminence and the dangers of legal battles. And it will always be individuals against the State and we are all aware that at the moment -- How many of these structures have we succeeded in putting up? Therefore, I am calling on hon. Members that the euphoria that is greeting the passage of this Bill should not cloud our judgement regarding the likelihood of opening the floodgates for legal suits here and there, an issue any State cannot afford.
In view of this, I would rather suggest that there should be a further extension from ten years to fifteen years. This will enable the State to succeed in making available such facilities to certain appreciable levels.
Alhaji M. M. Mubarak (NDC --
Asawase): Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion and in doing so, I will make some few submissions.
Mr. Speaker, the title of the Bill itself,
I believe, has a little problem, because we call it “Disability . . .” Everyone of us would agree that disability normally refers to unableness or incapacity and I would even urge, before I make other submissions, that when we come to the Consideration Stage, hon. Members should support the amendment for us to change the “Disability” to “Physically Challenged”. They are not disabled; they are only physically challenged, and I think we need to recognize this.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at some of the submissions that have been made so far, you would agree with me that in the Bill,
as rightly mentioned by the hon. Minister, employment is going to be taken care of, to make sure that people who are physically challenged at least are able to sustain themselves and their families.
Mr. Speaker, we live in a country