Dear PLUS – Unsafe “Accessible” Facilities At RSAs

The following complaint to PLUS Expressways Berhad (PLUS) is a long time coming since I risked life and limb going up and then down an exceptionally steep ramp at Ayer Keroh Rest and Service Area (RSA) in January. This mail is also the culmination of the multiples times I had to contend with using ramps that are not safe for wheelchair use at the Tapah RSA. The complaint is addressed to Senior Manager Customer Relationship Management Department of PLUS Encik Husni Md Yusuf. It is my sincere wish that PLUS will take the initiative to rectify the problems for the safety and convenience not only of wheelchair users but everyone who uses these facilities.

Steep ramp at Ayer Keroh RSA
Steep ramp at Ayer Keroh RSA.

Dear Encik Husni,

I am a wheelchair user and regular user of the North South Expressways. I also had the privilege of attending a presentation by Puan Khalilah Talha regarding accessible facilities at the rest areas and lay bys of the expressways at the Real Roundtable in 2006. I was heartened by the effort PLUS is putting into making the rest stops inclusive for the comfort of people who need such facilities.

However, the many times that I broke my journey at the rest stops since then, I discovered that many of the supposedly accessible facilities do not comply with MS1184. I would like to bring to your attention specifically the facilities at the rest stops, namely at Tapah RSA north bound, Simpang Pulai lay by south bound and Ayer Keroh RSA south bound.

Photographs of the facilities mentioned below are available at:

Death Trap For Wheelchair Users At Ayer Keroh RSA

The ramps to the food court from the car park at Tapah RSA have gradients that are too steep for unassisted ascent and descent. In fact, these ramps are non-functional and are a safety hazard to wheelchair users.

Accessible parking spaces there are usually taken up by vehicles that neither have a disabled driver nor disabled passenger. There is really no point in putting up a sign to indicate that the parking spaces are reserved for disabled people when there is no enforcement and anybody can park there and deprive disabled people from using the facility. Many times, I had to park somewhere else and had difficulty getting in and out of the car as the regular parking spaces were too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair beside the car.

The parking space at the Simpang Pulai lay by with the signboard indicating it is for disabled people serves no purpose at all. The parking space is of the wrong dimension and too narrow for a wheelchair to be placed beside the car. As you may already be aware, MS1184 states that an accessible parking space must have a width of 3.60m.

The Ayer Keroh RSA has a ramp that is so steep that my wife had difficulty pushing me up the first section from the car park. As you may also be aware, the gradient for an outdoor ramp should not be steeper than 1:15. The ramps at the food court also posed a formidable barrier for wheelchair users to traverse due to their steep gradients.

The accessible toilets were located inside the gents and ladies. My wife was embarrassed that she had to accompany me into the gents to get into the toilet as they were some other men using the urinals. It would have been better to place the toilets separately like at Tapah RSA. Disabled people do travel with a companion of the opposite gender and may need their assistance in the toilet.

The gradient of the ramp to the car park was too steep for my wife to help me down. I had to seek the assistance of two Propel staff to assist me. Even then, they had problems holding on to my wheelchair to prevent it from rolling down too fast. I must commend them for their kindness. Unfortunately I did not get the names of these two Good Samaritans.

PLUS needs to look into these accessible facilities to ensure that they are usable by the people they were intended for. I suggest that an access audit be performed on these facilities to ensure that they comply with MS1184 and are safe for use by disabled people. Otherwise, these facilities may endanger the lives of disabled people who have no alternatives but to use it.

I trust PLUS will take the necessary actions to ensure that these facilities are functional and safe to use soonest possible. I hope to be able to use safe and functional accessible facilities the next time I travel on the expressways.

I look forward to a positive reply from you regarding this matter.

Thank you.

Peter Tan