Saturday June 22, 2024

Private transport service and disabled persons

By Ibne Ahmad
October 15, 2019

“Private transport service in Rawalpindi is not friendlier for differently abled persons. I have been working for an organization in the city and using an electric wheelchair for the past year. The wheelchair is useful for me only inside my place of work. Outside the office, I have to be dependent on personal vehicles of buddies,” says Kumail Ali, a differently abled person.

“For differently abled persons, it is not just the availability of private transport service that matters, bus terminals, waiting areas, pavements and shopping malls are mostly inaccessible for us, as most of them have no ramps for easy wheelchair access and are designed without any thought given to people like me,” says Adeel Raza.

“A city transport system should have proper accessibility for all. Special measures should be undertaken at road crossings, bus terminals, waiting areas, pavements, to make these fully accessible for differently abled persons,” says Razi Jafri.

“Increased access to transportation is a key factor in improving the quality of life of differently abled persons, lowering their isolation and enhancing their participation in activities. The state of access roads and footpaths also determine the ease of commute for differently abled persons,” says Abid Naqvi.

“Maximum of differently abled persons avoid using private transport like wagons, Suzukis and mini buses, which are not low floor and involve risks associated with safety and accessibility, even metro buses in the city do have seats marked for differently abled persons, but seldom do we see these seats being used by those for whom they are meant, because there aren’t enough of them,” says Sheraz Hasan.

Shehbaz Haideri, who has an impaired leg and needs more time compared to normal people to board and alight from vehicle, says: “Once I fell down while boarding a mini bus. The bus started even before I could climb the steps.”

Syed Rizwan Zaidi says: “Differently abled persons cannot solely depend on their white cane for safe travel. Unless awareness level among behaviour of people and transport operators undergo a major change, they will continue to face discrimination and hurdles in commute.”

“Private transport system administrators must also take into account the behaviour of bus drivers and that of bus operators, safety mechanisms and general awareness in society, without which we cannot ensure that public transport is accessible for all, including differently abled persons,” says Wajahat Hussain.

“Differently abled persons wish to be self-sufficient. Safe and accessible public transport would enable them to explore more opportunities and lead a better life. There are many schemes for them in different sectors including education, employment etc., but accessibility to public transport remains a weak link and creates barriers to access,” says Khurram Kazmi.