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Transport must serve everyone indiscriminately, Prime Minister Babiš said at the fair


Prime Minister Andrej Babiš arrived at REHAPROTEX on a specially dispatched train, visited the stands of exhibitors and attended a conference on the removal of barriers in railway transport.

The main topic of the first day of the fair was the transport of persons with disabilities. Travelling to Brno with a special REHAEXPRES train allowed the prime minister to know immediately the problems that handicapped passengers face. Andrej Babiš then admitted that public transport is still not comfortable for people with disabilities and promised that the government will work to solve these problems. At the same time, he appreciated the range of products offered at REHAPROTEX, which is of great importance for people with disabilities. “It is very important that our civil society and the state address the problems of people with disabilities. I used the three-hour journey from Prague to talk to people with disabilities, as we definitely want to help them.. Transport in our country must serve everyone indiscriminately,” said Andrej Babiš at the opening of the expo conference on How will the conditions of travelling for people with disabilities change after the liberalization of railway transport and other changes for people with disabilities.

The Prime Minister welcomed that the conference deals with such an important issue as accessibility of transport for persons with reduced mobility, senior citizens and disabled people. He recalled that, especially for the elderly and disabled, public transport is often the only way they can travel without great cost. “Personally, I think we have a large debt to disadvantaged people in the Czech Republic. Despite some progress in recent years, we cannot say that our public transport is absolutely comfortable for fellow citizens with specific needs. As long as there are limitations or discomfort for the handicap, then we cannot say that we are done, ”said Andrej Babiš.

Requirements on accessibility of railway infrastructure or configuration of the rolling stock are defined by already adopted legislation, but the Prime Minister also outlined further specific steps that the state could take. “Laws and regulations alone will not ensure dignified and hassle-free transportation of people with disabilities, because everything is about people, and most importantly about the society-wide consensus. Therefore, the state must lead by example and make it clear that accessibility of transport is a priority,” he declared. The state, as the owner of Czech Railways, will promote a faster expansion of the number of step-free carriages. The availability of assistance services and the level of marking should also be improved. I have heard practical experience from the passengers on the train, for example, when a train arrives and they do not know which car is designated for the disabled. I can promise you that our government and the Ministry of Transport will further improve the conditions in public transport so that all passengers feel comfortable and happy, ”promised Andrej Babiš.

His words were confirmed on the spot by the Minister of Transport Vladimír Kremlík, according to whom positive changes will occur already this December. “We have more trains contracted on existing lines and we will be introducing some new direct services. Total transport performance will be increased by approximately eight percent. In the new long-distance transport contract, the Ministry of Transport also has obligations in favour of people with disabilities. Above all, it will be necessary to ensure trained staff on individual trains, to make websites accessible to people with visual and hearing impairment and to allow handicapped people to purchase their  tickets aboard the  train without a surcharge, ”said Minister Kremlík. Based on information from the special train, he also refused the undignified practice of some carriers loading immobile passengers manually or even refusing to take them on board them because they do not have a loading platform available.

The visit of Andrej Babiš was highly appreciated by the Chair of the National Council of Persons with Disabilities Václav Krása. "I am pleased that the Prime Minister has visited REHAPROTEX, because he sees "in natura" individual medical devices and can talk to exhibitors about their problems that need to be further addressed," he said. He also thanked the Prime Minister for taking the time to travel aboard a wheelchair-accessible train and talk to people about their problems. "This is a very good personal experience because there are still enough problems concerning the transport of people with disabilities," Krása stated. At the same time, he stressed the helpfulness of both the state authorities and the carriers, thanks to which many barriers have already been removed or are being worked on.


Date: 30 Oct 2019 09:16:00

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