KUALA LUMPUR: Getting to Mid Valley Megamall might be a headache to most people but for wheelchair-bound folks, it is twice the hassle.
The lack of available facilities for People With Disability (PWD) to enter the mall have forced them to cross a busy road outside the shopping mall with the help of auxiliary police.
Damai Disabled Person Association Malaysia president V. Murugeswaran, 45, claimed that PWD using wheelchairs would have to ask for assistance from the mall authorities to enter the establishment safely from the Mid Valley KTM Komuter train station.
Checks by reporters in the vicinity showed that every day, five to six wheelchair users would cross the street to get to the mall and vice versa, and two policemen would be stationed at the sidewalk near the train station and the mall’s entrance, respectively, to assist the PWDs.
Murugeswaran said the Komuter station is just next to the mall but there is no direct access to the mall for wheelchair-bound PWDs. He said the obstacles, such as the busy road and big dividers, make it a difficult feat.
“The simplest and most immediate solution would be to build a lift at the pedestrian bridge that links the station and the mall’s first-floor entrance at the north court,” he told reporters before a peaceful demonstration by members of two non-governmental organisations outside the mall’s North Court entrance here today.
Some 50 members and volunteers of Damai and another NGO, Dual Blessing Bhd, held a gathering at the venue to demand long-term solutions to this issue as well as poor accessibility for PWDs in public places in the city.
“We want to live independently but the lack of proper access to these establishments would not make this possible. We hope the authorities will provide permanent solutions to this problem,” he said.
Murugeswaran who had, from 2010 to 2014, represented the wheelchair-bound PWDs at the Transport Ministry’s committee for PWDs, had attended meetings with transport providers as well as the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), but said not much had changed.
“I have highlighted this issue in the meetings while serving as a representative there for two terms, but no viable solutions had come out of those meetings,” he said.
Dual Blessing executive director Danny Tan said wheelchair users had been missing out on many events and goings-on at the mall due to the lack of proper facilities for them to get to the mall.
“We often have had to grab a taxi or rely on family members and friends to help us reach the mall.
“However, we want to be able to move independently. The government should attend to this problem as we are also citizens,” he said.