KUCHING: A new charitable organisation wants to start a friendly taxi service for disabled folk in the city this year, following the introduction of a similar service in Penang last year.
House of Joy Kuching, which was registered on Jan 5, plans to offer the service using vans equipped with wheelchair lifts or ramps.
“In Penang there are now seven friendly taxis serving disabled persons. From the service we can see that it makes it easier for disabled persons to move about in society.
“We plan to start in Kuching in September and our target is to have 10 vehicles in the short term,” House of Joy CEO Chng Joo Beng told reporters after presenting the project proposal to Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah here yesterday.
Chng said the service would be free of charge to disabled cardholders who needed to go to the hospital.
Those who used it to go to work would be charged a fare based on 15% to 20% percentage of their salary while those using it to go shopping would be charged the normal taxi meter fare, he added.
Wheelchair-bound Ngu Nyok Ping, 27, welcomed the proposal and hoped it could be implemented soon.
“It’s really difficult when we want to go out, such as to the hospital or school. We really hope we
can have the friendly taxi so that we don’t have to be dependent on other people when we need to go somewhere,” she said.
Fatimah also supported the proposal, saying it would improve the mobility of disabled persons and help them be more independent.
“We want to provide quality life for the disabled. They have the same aspirations as the rest of us and want to be able to go out of the house as independently as possible,” she said.
She also said facilities for the disabled, including those in wheelchairs, were still lacking in Sarawak.
“We can see how difficult it is for them to go from one place to another without a properly equipped vehicle. Besides transport, we also need more disabled-friendly public spaces to make it easier for them to move around.”
On House of Joy, Fatimah said the organisation would be launched in May with a forum and exhibition to raise awareness on the disabled.
It will also hold a marathon to raise funds for its activities, including the friendly taxi service.
“We will help to write a support letter to the ministry concerned for the organisation to get an Approved Permit so that they can purchase the necessary vehicles at a lower price,” Fatimah added.