Why are people with disabilities neglected in public transport in Dhaka?

File photo: A girl in her wheelchair watches her friends play at the Mohammadpur playground in Dhaka Syed Zakir Hossain / Dhaka Tribune

Friday International Day of Persons with Disabilities

There are facilities for the disabled on public transport in many cities around the world, but here in Dhaka the situation is sadly different.

Amid this situation, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on Friday in Bangladesh and around the world.

Researchers have found that no aspect of getting around the capital is comfortable for people with disabilities, with public transportation, trails, and even road signs all proving inadequate.

On Thursday, a study titled “Mobility challenges of people with disabilities in Dhaka” found that 89% of people with disabilities do not even consider getting on a bus in Dhaka because there are no facilities for them. About 45% of them depend on rickshaws and 22% use CNG automatic rickshaws for their regular trips.

Only 11.50% of them prefer to walk, as the trails and traffic system in Dhaka make them comfortable. Only 6% of people with disabilities have access to a car, while 4.5% ensure their mobility using wheelchairs.

According to data from the Department of Social Services for February of this year, there are 2,143,357 people with disabilities across the country, representing 1.19% of the total population. Of these, 1,316,894 are men, 823,855 are women, 2,608 are transgender and 4,653,693 are children.

Researchers believe the vast majority of them live in urban areas like Dhaka.

Md Musfiqur Rahman Bhuiya, urban planner and doctoral researcher at the University of Alabama, USA, said: “People with disabilities find it difficult to get on buses due to the reluctance of bus staff to use them. to carry. They also face rude behavior from bus personnel and a lack of space to keep supporting devices.

Read also – UN Chief: Involving people with disabilities to build a sustainable future

Paying for tickets for GNCs and rickshaws is also a problem, as most people with disabilities are unemployed, he added.

“They can’t even walk on uneven trails, and there is a lack of ramps with standard inclines. The narrow width of the trail and conflicts with bikers on the trails are also common issues for them,” a- he declared.

“People look at us like we are aliens”

Hasina Hafiz, Behavioral Therapist for a Person with a Disability, said: “Raya (the patient) cannot keep her balance on a rickshaw, so I always have to go with her. Rickshaw pullers usually don’t want to take us, and people often look at us like they’re seeing aliens.

She added that she has been with Raya for 10 years and has seen little improvement in transportation, trails and schools.

“Raya belongs to a well-off family and that is why she can afford a car, but those who are poor cannot afford or even use a bus, as none of our vehicles are suitable for people with disabilities,” he said. said the behavioral therapist.

Legal loopholes

The government has developed the Disability Rights and Protection Act 2013 to protect the rights of people with disabilities and ensure their accessibility in common infrastructure, markets, hospitals, educational institutions and other buildings. The law, however, is not without its flaws.

It requires buses to reserve 5% of all seats for people with disabilities, but it did not make it mandatory to facilitate seat use by people with physical disabilities, including blindness.

The 2008 Dhaka Building Construction Rules were also framed with provisions to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities, but they are not being implemented properly.

Khandakar Rakibur Rahman, Executive Director of the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA), said: “People with disabilities should be able to access all kinds of vehicles.

Although the current state of public transport is inadequate, future transport systems such as the metro and rapid bus will solve disability issues, he added.

MAN Siddique, Managing Director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), said: “On the Metro Rail, the counters will have a lower height and there will be dedicated spaces for wheelchair and crutch users, as well as wheelchair access. get up.

“We will provide all necessary facilities for people with disabilities in developed countries,” he added.

Professor Md Musleh Uddin Hasan, head of Buet’s town planning department, said the government should change the design of the country’s trails and public transport.

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