MIRI: The Society for the Blind Malaysia (Sarawak branch) has written an official memo to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) pleading for its help.
The society is seeking Suhakam's urgent assistance to overcome the dilemma of the absence of disabled-friendly facilities in the land and river transportation sectors throughout the state.
Society chairman Isak Ngau, who is blind, told The Star Sunday (Nov 3) that the society had been trying for years to get better transportation facilities for the visually-impaired and physically-disabled in Sarawak.
Ngau, who was a recipient of The Star Golden Hearts Award in 2017, said his society carried out a detailed survey last month in various parts of Sarawak and found the situation as bad as before.
"I took part in the survey with another blind society member Edmund Sumping.
"We were assisted by volunteers along the way.
"We travelled in the various divisions and recorded our findings concerning the situation at river wharfs and bus terminals.
"The river and land transport terminals in Kuching, Serian, Sri Aman, Saratok, Tanjung Manis, Sarikei, Sibu, Kanowit, Mukah, Song, Kapit, Bintulu, Belaga, Miri, Marudi, Long Lama, Limbang and Lawas do not have facilities to assist the blind and physically-disabled," he said.
The major problems found were absence of railings and walkways for the blind and wheelchair users, no disabled-friendly toilet facilities in boats, buses and at the terminals, no proper seats for the disabled and other nagging problems that caused discomfort to all the disbaled.
Ngau said such problems were also a problem in remote wharfs and jetties such as along Sungai Rajang and Sungai Baram.
"It is fortunate that during our ground surveys, Edmund and I were assisted by kind volunteers or else we would not be able to travel properly.
"There are more than 35,000 physically disabled individuals and more than 2,000 blind people in Sarawak registered with the state government.
"There are thousands more not registered yet in rural areas.
"All of us plead with Suhakam to liase with the state government to get better public transport facilities for us," he said.
Ngau said the major airports in Sarawak such as Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu had already improved a lot in terms of being handicapped-friendly.
The state government must do likewise for the land and river transport sectors, he said.