Early this morning, I received a call from Encik Zahari from the Jabatan Kejuruteraan of Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ). I had sent an email to the MPAJ on Monday to protest the lack of kerb ramps in the stretch of pavement currently being upgraded. A bus stop is located on the pavement. It is important that this particular stretch is made accessible to ensure that wheelchair users are able to get to the bus stop and catch a bus when RapidKL deploy their non-step buses to this route.
Encik Zahari gave the assurance that ramps will be built on both ends of the pavements that are being upgraded. The kerbs that have been put in place will be removed to accomodate the ramps. There would not have been a need to remove the kerbs had it been done correctly in the first place. I told him that the gradients of the ramps should have a ratio of 1:15 or less. They should gentle enough for wheelchair users to traverse up independently. I have seen bad ramps all over Kuala Lumpur, especially those done by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL). These ramps are too steep and are not seamless from road to pavement. There is usually a small step from the road to the ramp. That may cause a wheelchair going up to tip backwards.
From this episode, it is apparent that the authorities have not taken the issues of access for disabled people into account. There should not even be a need for me to remind the parties concerned that public facilities should be inclusive, more so when new infrastructure is being built or when the existing ones are being upgraded. Accessible facilities should have been the norm. In Malaysia’s march to becoming a developed nation, we cannot, should not, ignore the fact that disabled people still have to struggle with third world infrastructure. The “developing nation” status will be meaningless when a segment of the population is still marginalised in so many ways.