It is not difficult, really. The solutions are plentiful but I have an easy-to-follow two-step guide that is very effective and widely used here. First: Plant a lamppost right in the middle of a walkway. Provide very little space for a wheelchair to pass through. Wait and watch out for one wheelchair user who is foolish enough to attempt the feat and witness the slightest misjudgement that will see him tumbling onto the road. It will not take long for a bus to pass by and run over him as he lies helpless on the road. Easy, yes?
If however he is so lucky as to escape that gruesome death, move on to step two. Ignore his complaints of the apparent danger. He will eventually get tired for being such a grouch and use the road instead. Due to the extreme difference in height, a man on a wheelchair may fall onto the blind spot of a driver high up in the cab of a speeding truck. The impact of five tons of hurtling metal against a wheelchair would be spectacular. Believe me, it is, the flying body and all! This, ladies and gentlemen, are two ways among many to kill a disabled person.
Scenes from an overactive imagination and paranoia? Not really. I should know better because Wuan and I fell onto the road while we were manoeuvring around a lamppost at Pandan Perdana. We suffered superficial injuries. My wheelchair was damaged. We were fortunate not to be hit by a vehicle while we were sprawled out on the road.
What hurt me most were not the wounds but the deafening silence to my complaints that were forwarded to the Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ), the municipal council whose jurisdiction covers Pandan Perdana. The letter was also copied to the Menteri Besar of Selangor, several relevant Ministries and government departments via post and email. Four weeks have passed. None have bothered to reply or acknowledge it.
This non-responsive attitude by MPAJ is not only disheartening but also renegades on its client charter. It states that they will reply to complaints within one week. What are we as ratepayers and citizens in the eyes of the council then when their client charter is not worth the paper it was written on? It speaks volume of how much lives are worth to the powers that be that run the municipality. Even Datuk Seri Shahrizat had pointed out that local councils think disabled persons and senior citizens are not important. There you go.
As a pedestrian, I put my life on the line every time I go out. The authorities do not have the sense to build amenities that are safe and accessible. They allow vehicles to park on walkways thus forcing me to use the road instead. They build walkways without kerb ramps. Pedestrian crossings are severely lacking. Such bad architecture and the lack of enforcement not only affect disabled persons but all pedestrians in general. Still, I continue use these walkways. Do I have a death wish by foolishly subjecting myself to such risks again and again? No! But are there other alternatives for me? Are there alternatives for the mobility impaired community?