The pavement upgrade works were completed yesterday. Fellow accessibility advocate Robert Wang who also resides at Pandan Perdana went to check and discovered that the ramps were too steep. This was despite assurances from Encik Zahari of Jabatan Kejuruteraan Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ) that the ramps would be built according to the code of practice which is the Malaysian Standard MS 1184 and MS 1331. Robert made an appointment to meet Encik Zahari this morning to discuss about rectifying the mistakes.
At the meeting we conducted a brief audit of the ramps and pavement. Encik Zahari concurred that the ramps were not properly done. The three ramps that we checked all had gradients of 1:6 when it should have been the ratio of 1:15. It is an impossibility for a wheelchair to go up a gradient of 1:6 without tipping backwards. We discovered that the width of the pavements was only 900mm when the code of practice recommended 1200mm. The pavement connecting to both ends of the bus stop were not flushed. There was difference of height of 1 inch. This uneven height is a barrier to wheelchair users. Moreover, non-disabled people who are not aware of the small steps may trip over them and injure themselves. Encik Zahari assured us that he will get the contractor to rectify the mistakes.
What I cannot comprehend is the fact that Malaysia has the capability to build the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, SMART Tunnel and the award winning Kuala Lumpur International Airport but we cannot even build a decent pavement that is safe and usable by everyone. This is also most disappointing especially when MPAJ had given their commitment to improve accessibility in the Ampang Jaya municipality by organising the Seminar dan Sesi Dialog Bersama OKU, Agensi Kerajaan dan Pihak Swasta (Seminar and Dialogue Session with Disabled People, Government Agencies and the Private Sector) and Disability Awareness Training. What more will it take to ensure that the accessibility needs of disabled people are not forgotten? As it is, our needs are often ignored and disregarded unless we make the effort to remind the government of our existence.
Poorly built ramp at Pandan Perdana.
Close-up of the ramp – too steep for wheelchair user to ascend unassisted.
Arrows pointing to the uneven levels between the bus stop and pavement.
A closer view of the uneven level between the bus stop and pavement.
The ramp at the other end of the pavement.
Yet another steep ramp at the other side of the road.
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.
Upgrading of pavement at Pandan Perdana.
A few stretches of pavements at Jalan Perdana 3/1 in Pandan Perdana are currently being upgraded. I am very particular about these upgrading works because the previous upgrading on a different stretch of the pavement was done haphazardly and could not be used safely although I have stressed to the previous ADUN for Teratai on the need to follow the code of practice. He was the one who got the allocation for upgrading part of the pavement in 2007.
Anyway, imagine to my horror when I found out that there were no kerb ramps to the pavements in the current upgrading works. I asked around and was made to understand that the MP for Pandan Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat had provided an allocation for these works. I posted a note in Facebook and tagged him, asking him to ensure that there are kerbs ramps as one of the pavements has a bus stop. If we cannot get to the bus stop, we definitely cannot board the buses when RapidKL deploy their non-step buses on this route.
The bus stop in the midst of pavement upgrading works at Pandan Perdana.
Through Facebook, I was given the phone number of Ong Tee Keat’s Service Centre Public Liaison Officer, Kent Ng, together with the office phone and email. I called the office number on Sunday afternoon. There was no answer. Then I called Kent and explained the issue to him. He said he would get back to me. I followed up with an email briefly detailing on how the kerb ramp should be constructed.
Work on the pavement is currently still on going. I was afraid that the pavement would be completed before any action is taken. I waited until this afternoon and called Kent again. He told me that he would submit my complaint to Datuk Seri Ong. I asked him when and explained the urgency of the matter. What he said to me following that was totally unexpected.
No kerb ramp.
“Mister, you called me on Sunday. Do you know Sunday is rest day?”
It was not what he said that irked me but the tone of him saying it. I said I knew but it is Monday now and I am calling him again to check and ask him when action will be taken. He gave me the same line that he will submit my complaint and that I had called him on a Sunday. YES, I KNEW IT WAS SUNDAY! If the matter was not urgent, I would not have called.
After that incident, and as far as I am concerned, I have done the necessary to enlighten Datuk Seri Ong regarding this matter. I shall wait and see how it pans out. Surely, the MP for Pandan who is also the Minister of Transport already understands the issues of public transport with regards to the street environment. His ministry and related agencies have been engaging disabled persons’ organisations in this matter for a long time already. I pray he will do the right thing.
Hmm, I hear the Chordettes singing…
Another end of pavement with no kerb ramp.
Close up of the dug up pavement with kerb.