Kyambogo University Introduces Tuk-tuks For Students

Kyambogo University’s idea to provide transport around the campus for students with disabilities has proved to be helpful.

They get to class on time and their lecturers say grades have improved.

The tricycles, commonly known as tuk-tuks serve 50 students, taking them to class, to lunch, and to and from their halls of residence.

Before Kyambogo University introduced the tuk-tuks, many students with special needs found it hard to move around the campus.

Gabriel Nickson Okeny a warden at Kyambogo University’s faculty of special needs, says a lot of the infrastructure at the institution was not designed to accommodate people with disabilities.

“We have our faculty here, but the students residing in a halls like Nanziri which are over two kilometres away find difficulty in accessing the faculty,” he says, adding, “that is when we thought around 2009 to find affordable means of transport within the university.”

​ The special needs school within the university accommodates students with different forms of disability. Their needs receive first priority.

“We have got the deaf, those with physical disability. Then we have the blind and the deaf-blind. Those with albinism and those who are intellectually impaired,” Dr Julius Patrick Omugur, a Lecturer for Special Needs and rehabilitation says. 

Simon peter Okiror drives one of the tuk-tuks. He goes from halls of residence to different faculty buildings, picking up and dropping off students.

“I have a list of them, with the time when I am supposed to pick and drop them off to their lecture rooms. The people I deal with are good people. The only challenge we get is when it rains because some of the tuk-tuks are open,” Okiror says.

Some students said to NTV in an interview that mobility was a huge challenge.

Edward Mwenda, a student of Counselling and Guidance is physically impaired. He says before the initiative, he woke up as early as 5:00am in order to reach class by 9:00am for his lectures.

“I would be the first person to wake up in that hall because I knew that I move slowly. But now, this tricycle can pick me any time and I go to the lecture and it brings me back afterwards,” he says.

Mwenda, however, says there are other challenges that students with special needs encounter.

“When I get to my faculty, I have to climb staircases, which are very hard for me to climb. There is no elevator for us with special needs.”

Vincent Apangu says getting there needed some means because “it is a long distance and it took time. Then I would reach class when all the seats are occupied.  But with the tuk-tuk, I am now able to cope up with the other students.”

The university says that apart from the tricycles, they have plans to make the lives of students with special needs more comfortable.

The warden, Mr Okeny, says “under normal circumstances, if you went to universities outside Uganda, you would find people who practice this method of transportation with disability friendly vehicles, where you can even get in with the wheelchairs. I think that is the future plan we are look at.”

In many areas in the country, persons with disabilities cannot access public facilities and services, but in 2010, the National Action plan for people with disability came up with the standards to have these upgraded to cater for those with special needs.

As reported by Daily Monitor

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