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Report of the CIB Expert Seminar on Building Non-Handicapping Environments, Harare 1992


Access legislation in Lesotho and the involvement of the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled (LNFOD) in legislation and policy formulation

Cecilia M. Sehlabaka, Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled, Lesotho

Meaning of access

Access has a very broad meaning. For our present purposes let us consider this one: a free mobility in a non-handicapping physical environment. The areas of accessibility to be discussed are buildings, roads and transportation in Lesotho.

Is Lesotho accessible?

In Lesotho access is for the benefit of non-disabled people, hence Lesotho is not accessible in regard to buildings. Although there are some public buildings with elevators, this does not mean that disabled people were in the builder's mind because you will find that the way to and from the elevator is not accessible at all. With roads and transport it is a disaster because they are the things we use most. There are no walkways and drivers are always too much in a hurry.


The reasons I am going to give are not my personal point of view. I have received a number of reasons from different people, some of whom were not aware that I am going say them. The main and foremost reason is unawareness which is a result of various factors. When these buildings and roads were made, the number of disabled people was low, and since suitable methods of mobility were not available, they were kept at home or physically carried to their requested destination. The appropriate facilities were not available as is the case at the moment in our International Airport. They also claim that the facilities are expensive, and that they cannot do such things for few people. Sometimes you will find reasons like: 'The ideas falls behind our minds' or 'We seem to ignore the fact'.

Access legislation

Access is for the non-disabled people in Lesotho. For instance, in the "1969 Road Acts", nothing on disability is found. The only piece of legislation not yet gazetted is the "Building Control Order and Regulations 1989", which has relevant access provisions.

Building Control Order and Regulations 1999 - Order:
To provide for the promotion of uniformity in the law relating the erection of buildings in Lesotho for the prescribed building standards; and for matters connected therewith.

Part III - Powers of the Minister:

Building Regulations 15. (1). The minister may, by. notice in The Gazette, make building regulations which must include any or all of the following provisions:

(u). Regarding the safety, health and convenience of occupiers or users of buildings or of persons otherwise present in buildings or having access thereto, hence the compulsory installation or supplying of equipment, installation or services in connection therein;

The government of Lesotho building regulations introduction

Section G. 3. 0:   Facilities for Disabled Persons

G. 3. 1:   As far as practicable, facilities for disabled persons shall be included in the design and construction of any public building, or hotel, or dormitory, or any other building where a group of persons are accommodated, or work.

G. 3. 2:   The owner of any building shall provide, pursuant to Regulation G. 3. 1 of these regulations, means of access, which shall be suitable for use by disabled persons, including one confined to a wheelchair, or one who is unable to walk or negotiate up or down steps, from the outside of such building up to the main entrance door, or from any parking area within the building to such main entrance door whether the main entrance door be on the ground level storey, or any storey.

G. 3. 3:   The principal entrance to any building shall be designed in such a manner so as to enable any person with any disability to comfortably use such entrance and it should be clearly marked to facilitate ready location.

G. 3. 4:   Toilet facilities, purpose-designed and constructed for disabled Persons shall be provided in any such buildings and shall be accessible with minimum assistance, such disabled persons.

G. 3. 5:   Where parking for motor vehicles, used by disabled persons, has been set aside, the route to such facilities, or any space, which shall be provided to accommodate wheelchairs shall be free from any obstruction which may impede or endanger the travel of disabled persons.

G. 3. 6:   The Building Authority may grant exemption from the requirements of the Building Regulations in respect of any building which shall be designed as a home, or hospital for disabled, provided that such exemption shall be granted only upon application, which shall specify the regulation, from which, exemption is sought.

G. 3. 7:   The requirements of Regulation G. 3. 2 of these regulations shall be deemed to be satisfied where any ramp, which shall be not less than 1. 2 meters in width, shall be provided for the use of disabled persons in a wheelchair; and shall be constructed at a gradient not steeper than 1:15; and finished with non-slip surface.

G. 3. 8:   A tread of any stairway in any public building, or hotel, or dormitory, or any building in which a group of persons are accommodated, or work, shall be designed, and constructed so as to have the edge of such tread delineated by contrasting color from other color of the remainder of tread; and the Building Authority may require that the handrail to any stairway shall be labelled in Braille at each floor level to show the number of that floor.

G. 3. 9:   Pursuant to Regulation G. 3. 4 of these regulations, the number of toilets, or sanitary facilities, which shall be provided for disabled persons in wheelchairs, shall be determined in accordance with Table 2G2; and in any building which shall be used as a hotel, or lodging, or hostel, not less than one guest room for every 100 guest rooms, or part thereof, shall be designed, or constructed, or adapted for use by disabled persons.

Involvement of the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled (LNFOD) in the formulation of legislation and policy

LNFOD played a significant role of contributing access to the benefit of disabled people in Lesotho in the work for the above mentioned document.

It is still working hard to ensure that the draft legislation becomes formal. In the area of 'access to roads and motor transportation', the plan of action accommodates raising public awareness with the relevant minister. Because really this people's reaction to us is caused by ignorance and unawareness.

The purpose of the Public Awareness Campaign will be to influence policy makers to amend the existing legislation which impede free mobility of people with disabilities but really not to force the community.

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