Accessibility a moot point at Central Square, all Metro stations, says DRA
As the deadline nears for government buildings to be disabled-friendly by June 2022, the Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) lament that even the newly inaugurated Chennai Central Square lacks safety for wheelchair-users.
CHENNAI: Though there are ramps at the Central Square which links to the metro station, wheelchair users have to take the long way to get inside the station through the lift. “There’s a ramp for baggage strollers and the same size constructed for wheelchairs too without a handrail,” pointed out Vaishnavi Jayakumar, member, DRA. “When someone from the central station has to come all round on the road to reach here, it’s safety-hazard, as they don’t have railing in the ramps.”
Though Rs 400 crore spent for this project, it looks like the disabled community has not been included in its planning at all, claim the DRA members. “The bollards in the pavement near Ripon Building and Central Square still block the wheelchair. From June 22, the old structure is supposed to be made accessible for disabled people. But even for a new project, accessibility seems to be a moot point,” said Sudha Ramamoorthy, member, DRA.
However, compared to other modes of public transport, wheelchair users find Metro station a bit more accessible but, they’re still dependent on someone to get a ticket or get into the train. Also, the clicking sound in escalators for blind people is missing.
R Sathish Kumar, a wheelchair-user from Tambaram, switched his commute from a cab to the Metro. But his woes compounded when he realised that he needed help to get a ticket and access to the entry point.
“While getting inside the train, there should a person to help to tilt the wheelchair. At times, it is unsafe for some wheelchair-users as they have thinner wheel which might get stuck,” opined Sathish.
When contacted, an official at Chennai Metro Rail Limited said that the accessibility work for disabled people including the ramp handrail is expected to start soon.