Love Letter To PLUS – Unusable “Accessible” Toilet

Puan Khalilah Talha is the General Manager Corporate Communications at PLUS Expressways Berhad. She had responded to my complaints regarding the facilities along the North South Expressway, especially the dangerous ramps at the Ayer Keroh RSA last year.

The email below is regarding the toilet with the wheelchair logo above the door that I could not use at Ulu Bernam RSA last week.

Dear Puan Khalilah,

I would like to point you to the “accessible” toilet at Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound. I was truly shocked to discover that I could not close the door after I got in. It opened inwards and there was little space for me to maneuver. That being the only toilet provided for disabled people at the RSA, I had no choice but to empty my bladder into my diaper. It is ridiculous to indicate that the toilet is for disabled people when it is not usable by a wheelchair user. I hope this matter is rectified soonest possible.

On another note, I am truly disappointed to note that my previous complaints 1 year ago regarding accessible parking were not looked into. The parking spaces at the RSAs and lay-bys that I stopped at do not comply with the code of practice. Most of them are too narrow. Worse still, most of these spaces were occupied by vehicles with non-disabled passengers or drivers. This defeats the purpose of allocating such space when disabled people do not have the opportunity to use them at all.

I use the NSE frequently. As a disabled person, I am not even asking for privileges and discount on tolls. I pay the same fare as other non-disabled drivers. All I am asking for is that PLUS provide facilities that are functional, safe and convenient for disabled drivers and passengers alike. That is the least PLUS can do to ensure equality to disabled people using the NSE.

I would like to advise PLUS to conduct a thorough access audit on all the RSAs and lay-bys to ensure that the facilities comply with the code of practice. Putting the wheelchair logo on the toilet door or painting the same logo on the parking space do not make them usable by disabled people. I am sure you are aware of the Malaysian Standard MS 1183, MS 1184 and MS 1331. I discovered from a cursory audit last week that many of the facilities do not comply with the requirements.

With the Akta Orang Kurang Upaya in force now and Malaysia being a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that will soon be ratified, it is time for PLUS to seriously work towards ensuring that all public facilities along the expressways are fully accessible, not only to disabled people, but to everyone that uses them.

Your attention in this matter is most appreciated.

Thank you.

Peter Tan

Inaccessible Toilet For Disabled People At Ulu Bernam RSA

PLUS Expressways Berhad (PLUS) is not serious in including accessible facilities at the rest and service area (RSA) and lay-bys along the North South Expressway (NSE). This is evident from my previous complaints regarding the facilities at Tapah RSA that went unrectified till now.

Likewise, the purportedly parking for disabled persons at all the RSAs and lay-bys have not been redone to comply with Malaysian Standard MS 1184. Disabled persons have no place to park and get out from vehicles conveniently. Moreover, the those parking spaces are usually occupied by vehicles without disabled persons.

Inaccessible toilet for disabled people at Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound
Toilet for disabled persons with the door opening inwards at Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound.

To add insult to injury, on my trip back from Ipoh last weekend, I discovered that the accessible toilet at the Ulu Bernam RSA Southbound was as good as useless. The door opened inwards. When I got in, I could not close the door due to the limited space inside for me to maneuver. I got Wuan to move the sanitary napkin disposal bin out. That did not help either. In the end, I emptied my bladder into the diaper I was wearing instead.

Before PLUS officials attend another conference on accessibility for disabled persons and proclaim to all and sundry that they provide such facilities at the RSAs and lay-bys, they should do an audit to ensure that these facilities are really functional and comply with the code of practice.

Putting a wheelchair logo on the toilet door or painting the logo on the parking space does not make them usable by disabled people. These facilities must comply with the Malaysian Standard MS 1184: Code of Practice for Access for Disabled Persons to Buildings. The document clearly spells out the proper dimension and requirements to make facilities usable by disabled people.

The Day I Lost A Morning Worth of Digital Images

Among the things that make digital photography buffs cringe in fear, losing photographs in the memory card before transferring them to the computer tops the list. This is exactly what happened to me last Saturday. Wuan and I were at the Ulu Bernam R & R. We had stopped there on our way back from Ipoh after celebrating Father’s Day with her Dad.

I was astounded to discover that I could not close the door for the accessible toilet after I got inside. The door opened inwards instead of outwards. There was simply not enough space for me to manuever to close the door. This is stupidity on the part of PLUS Expressways Bhd at its utmost.

My bladder was near to bursting and that was the only accessible toilet within 70km or 80km of the North South Expressway. I took out my camera and took a few shots of the toilet. This is certainly something I can use the next time I am invited to speak on accessibility.

Anyway, the camera kept displaying memory card error despite my attempts to turn it off and on again several times. The first thing that I did when I got home was to download the photograph from the card. Fortunately, I could still transfer the photographs into the laptop.

I hastily did a low-level format after that and the card seemed to work fine again. When I went through the album, I was dismayed to discover that over 100 photographs of the Kelana Jaya Pasar Tani taken the week before were not transferred. It was my mistake. I should have ensured that all the photographs were downloaded before I formatted the SD card.

Several data recovery programs that I used could not find the deleted files. Apparently, low-level format wipes the memory card clean. Luckily, it was just photographs of pasar tani. I can always go back to shoot more. This incident has taught me to ensure that, in the future, all photographs are downloaded from the memory card before I delete or format it.