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Sabrina’s taxi for the special needs

Sabrina’s taxi for the special needs
Sabrina Khan with disabled brothers Rajneel( left), Raveen on wheelchair and Arvin Kumar (right). Photo: Charles Chambers
August 07
12:18 2018

Lautoka Lawyer Sabrina Iqbal Khan was attacked with criticisms and abuses on her name being drawn out from a barrel for a new taxi permit.

The criticisms were aimed at her status as being a lawyer and how she was even allowed to submit her application for a permit considering that one had to earn $20,000 or less to be able to apply for a permit.

However, on the other hand, there were some who praised her initiative and plans and the reasons why she applied.

Ms Khan is the daughter of prominent Lautoka lawyer Iqbal Khan.

Her reason was simple, she wanted to provide a vehicle to transport disabled person requiring wheelchair access.

“It’s not like back in Brisbane where there appears to be mobility access for disadvantaged persons,” she said.

“Here in Lautoka, such services are lacking. Those with disabling conditions have a right to a full quality of life yet most are confined and imprisoned in their own homes due to a lack of services available to transport them around.”

The issue of a lack of vehicle available to wheelchair bound patrons came to light when she was invited into the home of the Kumar brothers.

Raveen Kumar, 38, Rajneel Kumar, 40 and Arvin Kumar, 37, were all diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a progressive lifelong sickness which restricts their movement.

The average age of survival is up to 20 years of age. The brothers are confined to their home and outings are limited.

One of her brother Rajneel Kumar said, he hasn’t been to church in three years.

His outspoken brother Raveen added that mobility was best thing one could do for the betterment of people with special needs.

“For two months I have been calling the Western Disable Association for the bus with wheelchair access.

“They have a bus with a lifter which helps to lift us and our wheelchairs.

“They keep telling us that the lifter isn’t working.  I called the Lautoka Cripple Children’s society too.

“They once said their driver was a Christian and wont drive on Sunday then changed their statement to say their lifter is not working.

“I called a tourist transport service they said their lifter vehicle is for tourists only

“I hadn’t seen a beach since 1990” he continued.

Ms Khan said she spoke to LTA about providing transport services to all disabled persons in the Lautoka region and was told she would need to apply for a taxi permit.

“I applied for a taxi permit based on LTA’S advice as the only other option was to apply for an ambulance permit which is a category I don’t fall into.

“The free service I intend to provide is for disabled persons 24 hours a day on call.

“I have written to LTA seeking their approval on vehicle specifications as the vehicle is large enough to accommodate wheelchairs and a ramp for easy access.”

“In submitting all documents as requested by LTA and Fiji Revenue and Customs Services, I have been as transparent as possible with my application for a taxi permit.”

“I didn’t have a choice really. It was either an application for a taxi permit or to privately provide disability vehicle support services to disabled persons in Lautoka which could possibly be suspended due to not being transparent with LTA in the first place.”

“No, I prefer to do things the right way and to keep my lines of intention and communication open with LTA. “ Khan commented.

“I am currently liaising with both my Australian and Japanese network to find a good vehicle to bring into Fiji.”

“We need to do things procedurally and the correct way to properly comply with Customs criteria for bringing the disability vehicle across to Fiji as well”.

“I was on the lucky ones and I need to make it clear that I will not be deriving any income from this taxi because the vehicle we will get is specialized to have a lift for disabled people.”

Sabrina said she wanted these disadvantaged people to be able to get out of their homes and enjoy their lives.

“To freely go out for ice cream, visit the library or church.”

“We must advocate for the oppressed.”

“People seem to think just because she’s the daughter of a prominent and highly respected lawyer that she must be a multi-millionaire.”

“If I was I would buy ten of these vehicles to use across Fiji.”

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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