PLANS to make Section 52 in Petaling Jaya a barrier-free neighbourhood might not be successful after mayor Datin Paduka Alinah Ahmad called off the tender process.
It is believed that Alinah called it off due to some internal technical glitches.
The plans were initially approved to equip Section 52 with disabled-friendly facilities like tact tiles, ramps in shops and more pedestrian-friendly walkways.
“We were ready to award the contract to contractors so that they could start work and complete the upgrades before December.”
“Furthermore, the MBPJ officers had brought all the documents and budget to be approved in a tender meeting last week but Alinah did not approve the applications,” MBPJ councillor Sia Siew Chin said.
These upgrades were scheduled to be completed by December, in time for a disabled walk happening on Dec 7 around the Section 52 area.
The walk, which is expected to involve more than 100 wheelchair-bound individuals and about 300 able-bodied participants, is being organised in conjunction with the International Conference on Accessible Tourism (ICAT).
Together with the state government, Tourism Selangor and the Asia-Pacific Network on Accessible Tourism, MBPJ was hoping to make the city barrier-free through the event.
Sia, who is also the event’s organising committee chairman, said the upgrades were needed in order for the disabled walk to take place.
She added that she would be following up and pushing for the upgrades this week.
“The mayor wanted us to discuss the upgrades with shop owners first before appointing any contractor despite the plan being approved three months ago,” she said.
Sia has approached MBPJ’s Planning Department head to organise discussions with the shop owners in Section 52.
She hoped that after the discussions were done, the mayor would change her mind and appoint contractors to start work immediately.
If all else fails, Sia is planning to put in her own temporary ramps to aid the wheelchair-bound participants for the disabled convoy during the event next month.
The proposed plan was for MBPJ to fit in ramps, drop curves, zebra crossings, tactile blocks and also disabled-friendly car parks in the commercial area.
MBPJ also had drafted a list of other barrier-free projects, which include parks and pedestrian walkways.
This year, MBPJ has set aside RM520,715 for six park upgrades to make them disabled-friendly.
The six parks are located along Jalan SS4D/12, Jalan PJS2D/9, Jalan PJS1/2, Jalan 19/40, Jalan PJU 3/23C and Jalan SS3/28.
“Once this is done, we will have 35 disabled-friendly parks in Petaling Jaya. There are eight more parks currently undergoing approval for upgrades.
“Then we will move on to plan for upgrades at the other 421 parks in the district in coming years,” she said.
In addition, MBPJ has turned three pedestrian walkways into disabled-friendly ones.
The three are along 500m of Persiaran Mahogani (RM245,425), 1,600m along Persiaran Jati (RM544,580) and three ramps along Jalan SS2/24 (RM15,000).
MBPJ upgraded the pedestrian walkways by resurfacing it and ensuring that the walkways are 1.2m wide.
The walkways are also fitted with ramps and proper platforms for buses to stop and pick up wheelchair-bound individuals.
In future, MBPJ is also planning to compel owners of shops and budget hotels in the city to make their premises disabled-friendly.
This will be done under the Uniform Building By-Law, Section 34A, which states that it is mandatory for all buildings in Malaysia to provide facilities for disabled persons.
To-date, MBPJ has not been strict on implementing the by-law and many shop owners are not aware of it.
“The law is good but there is a major flaw as there is no punishment set or consequences stated in the law,” said Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin.
Yeo added that there should be punishment included if they want to successfully compel shop owners to make their premises disabled-friendly.
She is in the process of pushing to include a punishment gazetted in the by-law.
Bukit Gasing assemblyman R. Rajiv hopes MBPJ would take installing disabled-friendly facilities seriously as it was needed all over the city.
“MBPJ should be actively upgrading its facilities,” he said.
Rajiv explained that while MBPJ had the means to do so, some existing shop owners might not have the budget to put in disabled-friendly facilities in their premises.
He proposed for MBPJ to make it compulsory for all new developments and buildings to be fitted with disabled-friendly facilities.
As for the existing buildings, he hoped MBPJ would work with the owners to install disabled-friendly facilities.
“However, it may not be feasible to have ramps or disabled toilets in some existing buildings because of space constraints, building design and also funding,” he said.