Jese Mamanavesi and Sainimili Naivalu (on wheelchair) wait for the bus at Rewa St in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI
A PHYSICALLY challenged woman is hoping that her daily struggles and pain accessing public transport will soon come to an end.
Sainimili Naivalu, 31, is among hundreds of people living with disabilities who are looking forward to tonight’s budget announcement to see what’s in store for persons living with disabilities.
A first-year student completing a Certificate in Information Technology at the University of the South Pacific, Ms Naivalu has been on wheelchair since she was 10 years old.
She travels daily from her home at Yarawa sawmill in Serua every morning to attend classes at USP.
Ms Naivalu claims she is discriminated against by certain bus and van drivers because of her disability.
She hopes that this year’s budget will include provisions that will see the availability of buses that is accessible for people like her.
“It’s been happening to me for a couple of months and sometimes drivers can’t accept the fact that I want to board the bus. It always seems they give me the looks not wanting me to get on the bus,” Ms Naivalu said.
“A few weeks back, I was rushing to get to school and when I came to stop the bus at 8.30am, the bus driver told me I cannot come inside because I was on a wheelchair. That struck me, he left and I just cried.”
She said she usually asked questions as to why she usually faced these confrontations with drivers a lot of times.
“I usually ask why I am facing these discriminations in my life when I am trying my best to achieve something.”
Ms Naivalu said she was concerned with other persons with disabilities who were also facing the same thing but were finding it hard to speak out.
“Other people with disabilities have their dreams and their goals but the barrier is the infrastructure and our accessibility to transportation is not there.”
“I want to encourage people at Government level to care for us because we are just as humans as they are and we also want what’s best for us.
“I know it will take time to have buses accessible for us but I hope they will work together to address these issues.
“I am hoping that as part of this year’s budget Government would be able to at least get in a few buses that will be accessible enough for people like us.”