Wuan alerted me to the following piece of news in the New Straits Times Online just now. My first reaction was a cynical snicker. I have heard one too many tall tales from RapidKl, Rapid Penang, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad and even the Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop regarding the accessible bus issue to know better and take news like this with a generous pinch of salt.
I checked around and none of my well-connected friends in Penang have seen the prototype of a Rapid Penang bus with the ramp installed yet. This is how it is in Malaysia. Stakeholders are not consulted on their needs and do not have a say in how these needs are being managed. RapidKL was deaf to the various comments on the prototype of accessible bus and went ahead to build similar buses with ramps and wheelchair locking devices that are neither functional nor safe to use.
Is this going to be another fiasco like RapidKL’s? Time will tell. Nevertheless, having been involved with these people, I am not too optimistic. How do you expect people who have very little understanding of what disabled people’s needs are to do the right things? But this is how things are being done in Malaysia. We spend money building amenities that are not functional and then spend money again to rectify the mistakes, or maybe not at all. Malaysia Boleh!
NST Online » Local News
Wheelchair ramps on buses
GEORGE TOWN: RapidPenang buses are set to be more disabled-friendly with the move to install wheelchair ramps on board its 140 new buses.
The installation of the wheelchair ramps is expected to be completed by early next year.
RapidPenang chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad said the disabled-friendly buses would be delivered in batches from March.
“The ramps will ensure that the disabled can commute on public transport,” said Azhar.
400 more Scania buses ordered: StarMotoring – 5 October 2008
SBS Transit, Singapore’s leading public transport company, has ordered another 400 Scania buses in addition to the 500 units ordered in 2007.
All the buses will have bodywork produced by Gemilang Coachworks in Malaysia. Deliveries will begin early next year.
The buses are of the no-step low-floor type for quick and fast boarding/disembarkation; as well as allowing full wheel-chair access.”
SBS Transit of Singapore announced in 2006 that they are pushing ahead with the plan to make all new public buses low floor and step-free for the convenience of senior citizens and wheelchair users. For that year alone, 150 new non-step buses would be rolled out. Now the bus company is ordering another 400 non-step low floor buses that will be delivered beginning early next year.
Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad (SPNB) of Malaysia rolled out 100 low-floor non step buses some time in mid-2007. Until now, wheelchair users are still unable to ride in those buses. The reasons being that most of the bus stops in Klang Valley are not suitable or are inaccessible. No effort has been put in liaise with the municipal councils and other related agencies to renovate all the 4000 bus stops in stages to make them accessible to wheelchair users and suitable for the buses to deploy the ramps.
The thing with Malaysia is that the Ministry of Transport has very little say in legislating land-based public transport. The Ministry of Entrepreneurial And Co-operative Development through the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board issues permits to public transport operators. The Ministry of Finance Inc. owns SPNB. SPNB is the asset owner of RapidKL and Rapid Penang’s buses. All in all, thirteen agencies are involved in one way or another in governing the industry. It is no wonder the public transportation system is such a havoc in Malaysia.
Is ours a government that cares for the wellbeing of all citizens? I am convinced that they are not. Look at RapidPenang, a 100% government owned company. None of the newly launched RapidPenang buses are accessible. Wheelchair users are left high and dry again.
That was despite several assurances by the top management of RapidKL to the Barrier-Free Environment Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) and the announcement by Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop in the press on March 18, 2007 that RapidPenang’s buses will be “disabled friendly.” Contrary to that none of the buses are “disabled friendly.”
These new buses could be running on the streets of Penang for the next 10 to 15 years. Do disabled persons in Penang have to wait for that long with the hope that the replacement buses will be accessible? Ours is a government that does not make sense. Why continue buying buses that not everyone can use when they are already aware that widely available non-step buses will benefit everyone?
As a wheelchair user who is in dire need of an accessible public transport to move around conveniently and independently, I express my absolute disappointment at the empty promises made by the government and the folks at RapidKL. Ours is a government that does not keep to its words. When the government or its agents make promises but do not fulfil them, is that considered lying? Convince me they are not.