Open Parking Bays To Drivers With Disabled Passengers – Fatimah

KUCHING: Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah advocates the opening up of accessible parking bays for the use of drivers with disabled passengers.

The Dalat assemblywoman said this with the full awareness that accessible parking bays for the disabled are only meant for disabled drivers.

When a driver brings a disabled person with him and is not allowed to use the accessible parking bay, he would have to drop the disabled passenger at the most convenient entrance before he can look for a parking space.

While looking for a regular parking space, the disabled person (passenger) will have to wait for the driver somewhere. This may pose a danger to the disabled person, Fatimah said when contacted yesterday.

She said the driver ferrying a disabled passenger should be allowed to use the parking bay meant for the disabled.

As long as the disabled person benefits from the accessible parking bay, either as drivers or passengers, the purpose would have been served.

It is time for the local councils to give due consideration to opening parking spaces for drivers with disabled passengers and not for disabled drivers only, said Fatimah.

She was responding to Datuk Bandar of Kuching North City Hall Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai’s statement that accessible parking bays were only meant for disabled drivers and not for drivers chauffeuring disabled passengers.

Peter Tan, an advocate for the rights of the disabled and also a disability equality trainer, who is also a columnist for The Borneo Post held the same view as Fatimah.

Tan, who is physically-challenged, said there had been no rule stipulating that a vehicle with a disabled passenger could not park in an accessible parking bay.

The rule that only a vehicle with a disabled driver can use the accessible parking bay was perpetuated for selfish reasons by some disabled people and adopted by many car park managers.

The argument is that there is not enough accessible parking bays and therefore these bays should be reserved for disabled drivers only. A vehicle with a disabled passenger can drop off the passenger and use regular parking bays elsewhere.

Tan disagreed with this argument.

An accessible parking bay has wider space so that a disabled person can get out of and into the car safely and conveniently. Where are the disabled passengers supposed to be dropped off if they cannot use these bays? Why also should they run the risk of being knocked down by passing vehicles while waiting?

Disabled passengers and drivers need the same amount of space to get out of the car. Therefore, reserving parking bays for disabled drivers only is discriminatory and it goes against the spirit of inclusion, he said, replying through WhatsApp. replies. Tan further said that many disabled people could not drive because of the severity of their impairments and many due to being visually impaired.

They need full time assistance. If they are to be dropped off and then the driver has to go find a regular parking bay elsewhere, what happens when they (disabled) need assistance while the driver who is also the carer is away? Likewise, if the passenger is a child, should the child be left alone while the parent goes looking for a regular parking bay?

He argued that if the reasons for disallowing drivers with disabled passengers to use accessible parking bays was due to the lack of it, then the number of those parking spaces should be increased. Tan also advocated that accessible parking bays should also be made available for senior citizens with reduced mobility and those with temporary disability with no OKU card.

Unless and until the government introduces regulation that clearly defines who can or cannot use these parking bays, I say anyone who needs them should be allowed to use them, said Tan.

He believed that the UK Blue Badge Scheme which issued 2-year permits to disabled people who are eligible regardless of whether they were drivers or passengers was a system that could be replicated here in the state.

Restricting cars with disabled passengers from using the accessible parking bays is akin to making it even more difficult for them to go out and lead a productive life, said Tan.

Source: Borneo post online