Traffic Mess for the Blind

A reader of Komunitikini recently e-mailed the news desk, complaining that the parallel tiles that is being laid out for the blind to navigate their way has been covered up by stalls lining up along the pedestrian area, blocking off the facilities completely.

A recent walkabout along the narrow walkway by one of the journalists further supports the claim made by the reader earlier on.

From the KL Sentral monorail station, one has to literally grope his or her way around looking for the exit.

The station’s main exit is completely blocked off by a temporary stall set up by one of the local telco companies, who are introducing their new service.

Further down, the yellow parallel walkway is hardly visible to the “normal” eye and is completely blocked off by tents set up by vendors selling festive goods.

Grunts of complaints can be heard coming from the locals trying to navigate their way through the maze.

A blind gentleman was spotted trying to find his way around, knocking on several objects along his path. The gentleman, who refused to be named, said that the traffic condition in Brickfields has been going from bad to worse.

“It feels like we’ve been robbed of our safety. I can’t find the dotted yellow line, and it’s hard for me to navigate my way round. I rely on landmarks around me to find my way out. But now, with the stalls set up like this, I’m lost,” he said.

While chatting his way around, with the writer tagging behind, the gentleman finally managed to find his way – almost 15 minutes later, whereas it should have been less than five minutes on normal account.

Commercialised development and no proper planning by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall- that is what President of the Sports and Recreation at the Malaysian Association for the Blind, Fairuz Abdullah has to say about the issue.

Indeed, the recent face-lift at Brickfields, which is seen as a way out to ease the traffic congestion, has instead further increased the congestion.

Mr Fairuz when met recently at his office said that for five or six years, the government tried to make Brickfields into “blind-friendly,” but “unfortunately during the implementation they never discussed with the blind properly and they took a lot of short cuts.”

He further blamed the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), TNB and Telekom for poor enforcement, and no proper discussion between them.

“You see, when the DBKL finished paving the road, the TNB came and started digging again installing wires and cables. Who are we to complain? Of course, things are easier for them, because they have a pair of good eyes to see but it’s harder for the blind. To me, it’s more of a show.”

The writer was almost knocked down by a speeding car, which seemingly ignored the red light. A quick glance at the pedestrian light shows that it was green at that time, but the ignorant driver showed no sign of slowing down and waved a finger, before speeding away.

If a person with a pair of good eyes risk being knocked down by an ignorant driver, what other chances are there for the blind who grope their way around at the busy traffic of Brickfields?