WIDESPREAD misuse of parking bays meant for the disabled is a common complaint received by local authorities.
The parking bays, painted blue with a wheelchair sign, are constantly used by able-bodied people who think little of depriving the disabled members of society of parking space.
Council enforcement officers, who approach delinquent drivers, often hear the same excuses such as the motorist did not notice the blue bay; driver was in a rush to get groceries; sekejap je (using it for a short period of time) while there are some who say they simply do not care.
There are also those who feel that the disabled group should not be allocated dedicated parking bays at all.
StarMetro spoke to a few disabled people who find it, at times, difficult to deal with able-bodied people.
Some of the disabled, who approach motorists to remove their cars or motorcycles, were met with aggressive responses and even had abusive words hurled at them.
Born with spina bifida, music teacher, 36-year-old Grace Goh’s condition affects her mobility.
She said the designated parking bays at Petaling Jaya New Town should not be seen as special
treatment as they were a basic need for the disabled community.
“I drive a modified car and I depend on it to get around. But,
at times, the parking bays dedicated for people with disabilities are taken up by the able-bodied.
“This always happens outside banks, eateries and near clinics, ” she said while adjusting her crutches.
Goh added that while Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) enforcement team was fast to react in getting wrongdoers to remove their vehicles, people still occupied the blue bays.
MBPJ issued a total of 1,035 compounds to able-bodied motorists from January to November for parking in bays meant for the disabled that were nearby ramps.
Its Corporate Communications Department assistant director Ahmad Iskandar Mohamed Mukhtar said able-bodied people were fond of abusing the designated parking bays but the city council would not hesitate to issue compounds to offenders.
“In 2019, MBPJ issued 1,040 compounds. We feel there could be even more people misusing the 273 disabled parking bays in the city but our Enforcement Department has a large area to oversee with an estimated total of 34,500 bays in Petaling Jaya, ” he said, adding that at present, 143 special stickers had been issued to disabled individuals.
Klang Municipal Council Corporate Communications Department director Norfiza Mahfiz said it was shocking that some people were oblivious to the needs of the disabled and saw little harm in occupying parking bays meant for this group.
“In 2019, we compounded 644 people for misusing bays for the disabled as MPK will not tolerate such selfish behaviour.
“From January to November, only 279 compounds were issued and this could be due to a change in behaviour with people having regard to the specially-designated parking bays, ” she said, adding that the movement control order was also a contributing factor to the fewer compounds issued.
MPK has 261 dedicated disabled parking spaces and an estimated 36,300 bays in the municipality.
Selayang Municipal Council’s (MPS) spokesperson said the 118 disabled parking bays in the town were designed to enable the physically challenged to park their vehicles with ease.
“We do not tolerate able-bodied persons who misuse the parking spaces.
“It is troublesome to deal with the issue of able-bodied people using parking bays meant for the disabled.
“In 2019, the enforcement patrol team issued 2,228 compounds to those who parked their vehicles in the blue-coloured bay for people with mobility issues, ” he said.
He added that from January to November, 1,623 compounds were issued with some changes in motorists’ behaviour while the ongoing MCO had contributed to the drop in figures.
“We gave out an estimated 500 special parking stickers, which are valid for 24 months, to the disabled.
“The Enforcement Department also issues compounds to those who use the designated parking bays without the stickers on their windscreen, ” he said.
Malaysian Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association (PetPositive) president Anthony Thanasayan said the problem with abuse of parking bays meant for the disabled by able-bodied people was a global problem.
“As much as I detest able-bodied people abusing their use, the real problem is the lack of or no enforcement at all by local authorities.
“Local councils must get serious in monitoring the misuse of parking bays for the disabled and throw the book on anyone abusing them, ” said the former MBPJ councillor who served from 2008 to 2013.
He added that the action must be done through hefty fines with no discounts or even towing away the offender’s vehicle so that people know the local authority means business.
“Local authorities should build an application that allows the public to snap a photo of the wrongdoer and send it to the respective council for immediate action to be taken.
“Regular awareness talks (done together with disabled drivers) can be very effective as there are some people who do not realise how difficult it is for a disabled person to manage when the parking bays are occupied by able-bodied individuals, ” he said.
Independent Living and Training Centre (ILTC) president Francis Siva said able-bodied drivers taking up dedicated parking spots has been a nagging issue affecting people with disabilities for many years.
“People without disabilities choose to illegally park in a parking space for the disabled. It is an inconvenience to us.
“For most disabled people, this attitude shown to them is all too familiar. The selfish behaviour of able-bodied people is a big barrier to the handicapped who want to go about their daily routine, ” he said.
Francis urged all local councils to help initiate change among the able-bodied so they would empathise with the difficulties faced by the disabled when attending to their daily chores.
“Our members opine if able-bodied motorists continue to park in the blue parking bays, it just goes to show that they have no consideration for the disabled.
“Local councils must impose stiffer punishment of a higher compound instead of the standard RM300 fine issued to offenders, ” he said.