KUALA LUMPUR: “We want disabled-friendly vehicle, We cannot get into buses, We want barrier-free and accessible buses.” Scrawled on placards, these plaintive pleas represented some of the daily obstacles faced by wheelchair-bound people in getting around in public.
Led by Damai Disabled Persons Association of Selangor and Wilayah Persekutuan, the group of disabled people gathered at the KL Sentral bus stop, lobbying for facilities that are more sensitive to their needs.
Besides demanding disabled-friendly buses, they also wanted disabled-friendly infrastructure such as wheelchair ramps at bus stops.
NO RAMP: V. Puspanathan, 30, demonstrating the difficulty of getting out of a bus by dragging himself down the steps while struggling with his wheelchair.
The association’s president V. Murugeswaran said buses were one of the most important modes of public transport for the disabled, as most of them did not own a car and taxis were too expensive.
He said they were disappointed with the public bus operator, RapidKL, which had failed to fulfil its promise to provide 100 disabled-friendly buses.
“RapidKL bought new buses in September but we have yet to see one that is disabled-friendly,” Murugeswaran told reporters in conjunction with the International Day of Disabled Persons.
“Without public transport, we lose out on a lot of opportunities such as jobs and education.
“At this celebration, we want to show decision makers our daily obstacles but we do not want charity, we want to be independent,” he said.
Barrier-free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) coordinator Christine Lee said they had sent a memorandum to RapidKL to explain the needs of the disabled.
“Statistics have shown that the number of disabled people is rising due to accidents and old age.
“Disabled-friendly facilities are accessible and safe for wheelchair-bound people, the elderly, young children as well as pregnant women,” she said.
When contacted, RapidKL corporate communications division senior manager Katherine Chew said the 100 units of disabled-friendly buses would be delivered in batches from Europe soon.
“We hope they will arrive by January,” she said.
She also urged the disabled community to be patient, as changes could not be made overnight.
Have at least basic accessibility for the disabled
Abdul Karim Stuart Russell
Dec 1, 06 4:25pm Adjust font size:
United Nation’s International Day of Disabled Persons (IDDP), on Sunday Dec 3, is a wonderful opportunity to promote understanding and increase awareness in Malaysia of disability issues, and promulgate the importance of independence, ease of movement, integration, dignity, equal rights and the well-being of persons with disabilities of all kinds.
With good education, full accessibility to facilities such as buildings and public transport; proper training and understanding employers, persons with disabilities can be an asset to the nation and should be integrated into, and participate in, every facet of social, economic, political and cultural life in Malaysia.
The serious deficiencies of our public transport systems hamper the independence, equal rights, dignity and well-being of all persons with disabilities. These deficits must be rectified because they are fundamental prerequisites to integration and independence.
The disabled are discriminated against and Malaysians with disabilities – even in Kuala Lumpur – are excluded from almost all public transport.
Taxi drivers charge wheelchair users an additional RM10 to carry a wheelchair while the blind get taken on a roundabout route so that the taxi meter clocks up a higher fee. Some airlines charge an extra fee to use a wheelchair, and even claim the right to refuse to carry the disabled.
Authorities do not provide properly designed footpaths, road crossings, do not adhere to universal standards regarding the head clearance for signs, for the placement of street furniture, the provision of wheelchair ramps, etc.
Consequently people with disabilities in Malaysia cannot safely make their own way around the locality where they live or venture further afield to reach a car park or public transport system.
E-Accessibility is the theme for IDDP 2006 but here in Malaysia, if the disabled simply have basic accessibility, they will be genuinely delighted and the nation will be one step closer to eventually being a developed country.
The writer is spokesperson for Action and Inclusion for the Disabled (Aid).
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.