Brickfields traffic dispersal scheme blindsides the visually impaired

The visually impaired pedestrians at Brickfields are already unaccustomed to the one-way traffic scheme that was introduced in May; and their plight is not helped by the fact that pedestrian bridges that were promised to them were yet to be delivered by the authorities.

According to Malaysia Blind Association executive director George Thomas, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the developer Malaysian Resource Corporation Berhad (MRCB) had assured the blind community that pedestrian bridges and extra zebra crossings would be added.

He said that during a meeting in May, locations were identified for the proposed bridges; including one from Jalan Tun Sambatahan 4 to Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad and one from Jalan Tun Sambathan 4 to YMCA.

He added that Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing deputy minister M. Saravanan reassured the promises while conducting a walkabout last week.

“However, nothing has taken place until now. Nobody seems to bother about it,” Thomas said.

He bemoaned that safety measure for the blind people are not taking care by the contractors.

“Even sighted motorists are confused with the traffic flow, how do you expect the blind to negate their way through this traffic?” he asked.

Properties price gone sky-high a worry for blinds

Thomas also fears that the blind people will be slowly scaled down in Brickfields as the properties price are shooting up following the Little India development and traffic dispersal scheme.

The skyrocketing property values also directly affect rental rates, which are also on a steady rise.

He said many blinds, whose monthly income is between RM1500-RM2000, are living and operating massage centres in rented premises.

“There are about 19 blind massage centres in the area, and each of them employs four to five blind people,” he said.

“If one day they could no longer afford the rentals, I worry what will happen to the blinds,” he added.

He added that many blind’s massage centres are suffering a 30-40% drop in business as the one-way roads lead to a massive congestion and parking shortage.

Motorists don’t give way

A blind pedestrian, who only wished to be known as Zailan, admitted that he is having hard time moving around ever since the roads were converted into a one-way system.

“Vehicles are not stopping even though we raise our walking sticks to signal to them; It is really causing us a big headache,” he elaborated.

Visually impaired Ng Yoke Kwan said the community had requested the authorities to place speed humps on roads to slow down motorists, but the latter did not respond.

She added that the ongoing congestion is prompting motorists to park vehicles on the blinds’ tact-tile walking paths.

The one-way traffic scheme was put in place to facilitate the RM110 million Brickfield traffic dispersal systems.

It was said that upon the project’s completion on October 29, Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad will be revert into a two-way road.