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Hearing impaired can get driving licence now – Minister

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Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said the present Government has given the opportunity to the hearing impaired people to get a legally valid driver’s licence for the first time since Independence.

He was speaking at the inauguration of a special mobile service organised by the Motor Traffic Department at Sir John Kotalawela College premises, Kurunegala recently.

The mobile service which started under the patronage of Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena was held for two days.

Through the mobile service people of the North-West Province had the opportunity to get many services including banking, insurance and leasing related to vehicles.

Also after the pilot projects implemented in Gampaha district special driving licence issuance, counselling service for people with hearing impairment and conducting written tests, vehicle transfer, issuance of driving licences, transport medical institute facilities and other institutional services were provided.

Minister Dr. Gunawardhana said “this mobile service can be called as an extremely important social service programme that has been implemented in Sri Lanka since independence. Currently, there are about 77,000 hearing impaired people living in the North Western Province.

As a group with special needs, hearing impaired people also have the need to drive vehicles for their daily activities”.

“Many of them are engaged in driving. Despite requests from various Governments for a long time, they have not been able to obtain a legally valid driver’s licence. In many developed countries of the world, including Europe and America, it is possible to obtain internationally recognized driver’s licenses for the community with special needs. But Sri Lanka’s community with special needs has not had that privilege so far. That is why they have to constantly face various hardships while driving. In my opinion, it is not a suitable situation for human rights”.

“Taking into consideration the requests made by the organizations of the people with special needs and the hearing impaired for a long time, State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna played a great role in looking into the background of the need to give them a driver’s licence. Amidst many challenges and facing many difficulties, we implemented a pilot project in the Gampaha district, and were able to get Cabinet approval to provide driving licenses to hearing impaired people.

Accordingly, from tomorrow onwards, these special people will also have the opportunity to drive legally without fear or doubt. Steps have been taken to give them the right to drive with a special identification mark”.

“It is the responsibility of all of us to identify the hearing impaired people with special needs who have the right to drive in Sri Lanka and inform all parties including the Police about them,” he said.

Transport State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna, MPs Manjula Dissanayake and Samanpriya Herath, North Western Province Chief Secretary Ranjith Ariyaratne, Motor Traffic Department Commissioner General Nishantha Anuruddha Weerasinghe and a large number of officials from public and private institutions participated in this event.

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