Group seeks Suhakam’s help in getting facilities for OKU in S’wak

Dangerous situation: People helping Sumping (in blue shirt) and Ngau (behind him) to get off an express boat at a jetty in Sarawak.

MIRI: The Sarawak Society of the Blind Malaysia has written an official letter to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) pleading for its help.

The society is seeking Suhakam’s urgent assistance to look into the absence of handicapped-friendly facilities in the land and river transportation sectors.

State chapter chairman Isak Ngau, who is blind, said they had been trying for years to get better handicapped-friendly transportation facilities for the visually-impaired and physically-handicapped.

Ngau, who was a recipient of The Star Golden Hearts Award 2017, said they carried out a detailed survey last month in various parts of Sarawak and found that the situation was the same as before.

“I personally went to the ground with another society member, Edmund Sumping.

“We were assisted by volunteers in various areas 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-handicapped,” he said.

Among the major problems were the absence of railings and walkways, no handicapped-friendly toilets in boats, buses and at the terminals, no proper seats and no officials to help them get on and off boats and buses.

Ngau said such problems were also acute in remote wharfs and jetties such as along Sungai Rajang and Sungai Baram.

“It is fortunate that during our ground surveys, we were assisted by kind volunteers or else, we would not be able to travel properly,” he said.

“There are more than 35,000 physically-handicapped and over 2,000 visually-impaired people registered with the state government.

“Thousands more are not registered yet in rural areas.

“We hope Suhakam can liaise with the state government to get us better public transport facilities,” he added.

Ngau said major airports such as Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu had shown many improvements on handicapped-friendly amenities.

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