Saturday, April 13, 2024

Push for equal access to public transport for PWDs


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Shillong, March 5: To ensure that Persons with Disabilities have equal access to public transport, a sensitise programme on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 relating to Accessible Transportation to bus, taxi drivers, and bus conductors was organised on Tuesday.
Secretary of the Social Welfare department, Israel Ingty said that RPWD Act mandates aimed at ensuring that individuals with disabilities have equal access to transportation services and facilities.
According to him, the state government is in line with the provisions of the Act.
He informed that with regard to accessible transportation, the state government has recently notified the state-level consultative committee for monitoring the functions of accessible transportation to persons with disabilities.
According to him, today’s programme is the outcome of the state-level consultative committee for monitoring the functionality of accessible transportation for persons with disabilities.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities expressed her disappointment that only 60 plus out of the 172 taxi drivers and bus conductors who were invited attended the programme.
Assistant Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Bridget Warshong said that Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA) has taken steps to see that all the STPS buses have detachable ramps to enable the PWDs on a wheelchair to board the buses. According to her, so far there are only 37 STPS buses that have such facilities.
She stated that they have witnessed that there is a drawback in that the detachable ramps in these buses do not touch the ground and it becomes impossible for the PWDs on a wheelchair to board the bus.
The Assistant Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities requested MUDA to see if all the STPS buses will have the facility of having detachable ramps that will touch the ground.
“This is going to be very helpful for the PWDs to have easy access to public transport,” Warshong said.
‘PWDs will pay only 50 percent of the fare, bus conductors cannot charge the normal fare from them’, she said.
It may be recalled that President of the Meghalaya Deaf Association Ferdinand Lyngdoh Marshillong had expressed frustration at the inability of the state to provide access to public transport for people with disabilities, adding that it has been a long-standing issue which is often swept under the rug.
According to a reply to an RTI filed by Marshillong about accessible transportation, the reply mentioned that there are 37 mini SPTS Ashok Leyland buses under the Meghalaya Urban Development Authority which are fully accessible to PWDs and two seats are reserved for them and manual assistance is also being provided.
Marshillong added that the lack of accessible transport greatly affects people with disability in rural areas, especially when they have to travel to the district hospital to get an assessment done to avail certificate.



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