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Bureaucracy to complicate helping elderly and disabled

Date Posted: 2006-03-10

Handicapped, disabled and elderly citizens now are able to get around thanks to bus and taxi transportation provided by a Non-profit Foundation Group on Okinawa.

That’s about to change, and some are charging the Okinawa Prefecture is derelict in its responsibilities. Starting April 1st, the NPO is prohibited from operating its transportation system until “welfare paid transportation guidelines are coming from the Prefecture Operations Council.

The trouble is, the Prefecture hasn’t established an Operations Council Section yet, leaving senior citizens and the disabled without a means of transportation. Without the approvals from the new council, the NPO is forbidden to do business, meaning they cannot legally operate their vehicles to support citizens in need. The NPO says it may try to operate an interim free service to aid its clients, but legally is required to stop doing business. The new rules guidelines say “If public transportation is insufficient, the NPO Foundation Group can do business, but first must get an inspection to determine if the group is really an NPO Foundation.”

Without a Prefecture section established to conduct the inspection, the NPO Foundation Group wants to know how it’s supposed to become properly licensed. A Prefecture official says it’s trying to set up the Transportation Council Section as quickly as possible, but shifts the responsibility and blame to local cities, towns and villages, who he says should do their own inspections and certifications. “Unfortunately,” he says, “cities and towns and village staffs didn’t think enough, or how important this is. We are going to ask every community to set up a system from now on.”

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