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November 9, 2019

PA passes bill to allow hearing-impaired persons to drive


November 9, 2019

The Sindh Assembly on Friday unanimously passed into law the Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019, which will enable the hearing-impaired persons in the province to acquire the driving licence.

This is the first time, a category of persons with disabilities will get such a facility in Sindh. A group of hearing-impaired people and office-bearers of one of their representative organisations witnessed the proceedings of the House from the visitors’ gallery.

The provincial assembly in a historical move also allowed a woman to come inside the House and stand next to the chair of the speaker from where she used the sign language to let the people sitting in the visitors’ gallery understand proceedings of the session.

Sindh Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla presented a motion in the House to let the woman come inside to use the sign language. The legislators from both the opposition and treasury benches supported the motion.

Earlier, the House on the request of Chawla put off the question hour of the session as the proceedings of the day were especially reserved to present the Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill.

The bill passed by the House allows the hearing-impaired persons to secure driving licences without any fee. Traffic police official who will conduct the driving test of an applicant facing the problem of hearing impairment will be himself required to understand the sign language.

The new law makes it mandatory for hearing-impaired persons to use a special device and mirrors while driving, which would enable them to perceive any vehicle around them using a horn or the siren of any emergency vehicle such as ambulance. A special light will blink in the car to enable the hearing-impaired person to know about the horn.

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Firdous Shamim Naqvi, who belongs to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, suggested that the assembly should thoroughly conduct a debate on the bill for up to five days before passing it.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) MPA Raana Ansar said other legislatures in the country should learn from the Sindh Assembly as presenting such a bill was truly an honour for them.

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said the House deserved special greetings for presenting the bill. She said special stickers would be issued for the vehicles used by persons facing problems of speech and hearing impairment. She also lauded Qasim Naveed Qamar, special assistant to the Sindh chief minister, for working on the legislation in favour of the hearing-impaired persons.

Naqvi informed the House that her two daughters were blind and he knew the sufferings of the persons with disabilities. He said his daughters were not blind at the time of birth but they lost their eyesight later on with the passage of time. He added that they had appeared in the combined super service examinations and both of them had acquired education in Canada and secured gold medals during their academic career.

Women Development Minister Syeda Shehla Raza said the Sindh government was working for the uplift of all sections of the society, including persons with disabilities.

PTI MPA Shahzad Qureshi said the provincial government should take more steps to help such persons become an active part of society. He called on the provincial and federal governments to reserve more job quota for persons with disabilities. He said private organisations should also be bound to employ such persons and legislation should be made in this regard.

PTI lawmaker Dr Seema Zia said the provincial government should ensure implementation on the job quota reserved for persons with disabilities.

Dissolution of PMDC

The Sindh Assembly also passed a resolution with a majority vote against the decision of the federal government to dissolve the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council through a presidential ordinance, establishing the Pakistan Medical Commission in its place.

The resolution was tabled by Pakistan Peoples Party legislator Syeda Marvi Rashdi. The resolution urged the Sindh government to establish its own Sindh Medical and Dental Council.

The PTI MPAs opposed the resolution. PTI legislator Dr Imran Ali Shah said the dissolved PMDC had a history of creating hurdles for people who had earned medical education degrees from abroad to work in Pakistan.

Naqvi said the medical and dental council should not be established at the provincial level as it was against the integrity of Pakistan.

The health minister said there was no need to promulgate a presidential ordinance when the assemblies were functioning in the country.

She said the stakeholders were not consulted by the federal government before making such a move. She said the provinces and other stakeholders were not satisfied with that move as it had created problems both for the medical students and doctors.

She said the new Pakistan Medical Commission had been established to allow such medical colleges and universities, which did not meet the PMDC’s criteria for medical education.

The House also passed a resolution to pay tribute to the founder of Sikh religion Guru Nanak on his 550th birth anniversary. The resolution was moved by Grand Democratic Alliance MPA Nand Kumar Goklani.