Japem launches Brunei's first bus to cater to needs of disabled people

Mohd Nasrullah El-Hakiem, Head of Pusat Bahagia, showing the wheelchair elevator of the new bus for the disabled on wheelchairs. Picture: BT/Rudolf Portillo

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

THE Community Development Department (Japem) under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports yesterday launched Brunei's first bus with facilities to provide easy access for persons with disabilities to get on and off.

The $93,998 bus, which was launched at the ministry yesterday for persons on wheelchairs at Pusat Bahagia and Japem, can accommodate 16 passengers and six wheelchairs.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Paduka Hj Hazair Hj Abdullah, who officiated at the launching, told The Brunei Times that having the bus should set an example to public transport operators to provide such facilities for the disabled.

"If they (public transport operators) are not sure (of what kind of bus to provide), they can come to the ministry and look at the design of the bus," the minister said.

He added, "We are now moving ahead in giving more facilities for the handicapped, such as transportation and facilities in public buildings for them to manoeuvre around. What is important is the safety of the disabled when they get on the bus, which has safety features."

Pehin Dato Hj Hazair said although launching the bus was a good start, there were still improvements to be made.

Head of Pusat Bahagia Mohd Nasrullah El-Hakiem Hj Mohd, in an interview, said Japem's vision was to provide rights for the disabled as well, such as access to buildings and transportation.

"You have to understand that people with disabilities need to use more energy than what we do. By providing them this, it gives them easy access for them to manoeuvre. So this bus makes it easier for them to get in, rather than us having to carry them in," he said.

He explained having a bus with facilities like a wheelchair elevator was user-friendly and allowed persons with disabilities to take their own initiative to get in the bus.

"We are giving them a sense of being more independent. This is what we are trying to push for, as an action to instil awareness among the public on people with disabilities," he said, adding more positive steps in aiding the elderly were yet to come.

Like Pehin Dato Hj Hazair, Mohd Nasrullah El-Hakiem said the department hoped this could set an example and be a benchmark, and that the private sector and other ministries would follow.

"This is more a sense of empathy than sympathy, as we do not know what people with disabilities are facing everyday. By providing the bus, we want to show that we understand them and are giving them the access to buildings and transportation that they did not have before," he said.

"We are a signatory to the United Nations (UN), so this is part of our action in pursuing this in the right direction, in pursuing and enhancing (lives) of disabled participants in society. We expect the disabled to be equal among us, and that they are given equal opportunities, not just in access to transportation, but to employment as well," he said, adding many of the disabled possessed sets of skills," he added. Also present during the launching was Deputy Minister Datin Hjh Adina Othman and Permanent Secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar. The Brunei Times
 


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