A disabled person tries to board a microbus in vain in this file photo. Photo: Republica Files
KATHMANDU, Dec 30: Deyan Sunuwar, 23, of Dakshindhoka has been a wheelchair user for 12 years. And during all these years, he has struggled daily while accessing public transport.
“Waiting for public transport vehicles for a long time has become my daily routine,” he told Republica. “Usually, bus conductors do not help me get on the bus.” As a consequence, Sunuwar has to use a taxi, which is more expensive.
Sunuwar notes down the number of the bus if it does not stop for him and he reports the number to the police. However, he has no idea if the police actually take any action against the driver and conductor.
“Even if they stop, the overcrowded public vehicle turns even the shortest trip into a nightmare,” Sunuwar said adding, “The negative attitude of other passengers is also very discouraging.”
Chief of Metropolitan Traffic Police Office Senior Superintendent of Police Basanta Kumar Panta said, “Differently abled people who face difficulties while accessing public transport vehicles can seek help from traffic police”. If there is a complaint against a public vehicle that is reluctant to help the differently abled we will first make them aware of their lapse and if they continue in their reluctance then strong action is taken as per the law, he said.
The Constitution of Nepal has guaranteed all citizens, including persons with disabilities, their fundamental human rights, including the right to live with self-respect and access all public services and facilities. In addition, Section 4 of the Constitution, which lists the state's directive principles, policies and responsibilities, has a provision on safe, well-managed and disabled-friendly transportation to ensure easy and equitable access to transport services for all citizens.
Yet, people with physical disability have to face a lot of barriers while accessing public transport. The 2011 census shows a total of 23,549 physically challenged people in the Valley.
After research at various transportation facilities in the Valley, the National Federation of the Disabled, Nepal (NFDN) prepared a report showing that none of the 13 samples taken from public transport within the Valley was found accessible for the differently abled.
President of NFDN, Sudarshan Subedi, said that ensuring accessibility to physical infrastructure for the differently abled has always been a challenge for the government.
“The government is currently working on disabled friendly infrastructure in coordination between Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen ,” he said. “They are working on it and are introducing disabled friendly public vehicles and reserved seats for disabled.”