December 03, 2006 14:17 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 (Bernama) — A group of disabled individuals and organisations Sunday asked public transport operators, especially bus companies, to consider the needs of the disabled in their planning and decision-making.
In making the call, V. Murugeswaran, Coordinator of Barrier-free Environment and Accessible Transport (BEAT), said bus companies must ensure new buses are non-step to allow easy access to the disabled, senior citizens and pregnant women.
Currently, he said, the fleet of buses operated by Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Sdn Bhd (RapidKL) were not disabled-friendly, thus depriving wheelchair-bound passengers or travellers on crutches to use the service.
“The steps to board these buses are high for any handicapped person. Rapid KL must ensure the handicapped too can use the public transport provided by them,” he said after an awareness campaign at the KL Sentral Station.
The campaign was held to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons aimed at promoting awareness on the need for barrier-free environment and accessible transport for all people including the disabled, senior citizens, pregnant women, adults with prams and passengers with luggage.
One of the campaign participants, Mehboob Sulaiman, 45, who was in crutches, said the public bus service provider should lower the steps leading up to the buses and ensure there was enough standing space for the disabled.
“Boarding the bus is one thing, the space inside the bus is narrow. We, the disabled, have to fight for space with the able-bodied people.
“We don’t want to inconvenience normal users but when we ourselves don’t have enough space to stand, then things become difficult.
“Sometimes, the seats for the disabled are often misused. Normal people take up the seats. We cannot ask them to vacate the seats…it is for the bus driver to ensure these seats are empty for the disabled,” she said.
Murugeswaran, who is also Damai Disabled Persons Association of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur president, said the association met officials of Rapid KL last month and handed a memorandum stating the requirements of the disabled.
“Rapid KL had made an announcement it was bringing in 1,000 new buses but these buses are not barrier-free buses.
“We are disappointed Rapid KL is not introducing non-step buses when buses of this kind are being used in many countries all over the world.
“As we move towards becoming a developed nation by 2020, the disabled do not want to be left behind,” he added.
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