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Disabled in Jakarta demand accessible sidewalks

Blocked pavements forcing visually impaired into roads puts them at serious risk, they say

Disabled in Jakarta demand accessible sidewalks

Visually impaired people have to walk in the street as sidewalks are used as illegal parking lots. (ucanews.com photo)

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta
Indonesia

September 1, 2017

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Disabled people have taken to the streets of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to call for accessible sidewalks.

Illegal parking and street stalls are among impediments for such people, including the blind and those in wheelchairs.

The National Public Accessibility Movement this week organized the gathering in Central Jakarta as part of 'Orderly Sidewalk Month.'

Ariani Soewanko, coordinator of the movement, told ucanews.com that many sidewalks were cluttered with obstacles.

"It is very dangerous for us to walk into the streets," she said.

Orderly Sidewalk Month, launched on Aug. 1 by Jakarta Governor Djarot Syaiful Hidayat, aims at improving conditions for pedestrians.

It was initially supposed to end on Aug. 31, but was extended to the end of September.

Priyo Siswoyo finds it difficult to navigate sidewalks.

"My rights, as a person in a wheelchair, are violated," he said, urging President Joko Widodo to fulfill a promise to give priority to the disabled.

In April 2016, Widodo signed a law mandating establishment of a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities. However, the commission is yet to be established.

On Aug. 6, 200 disabled people, coordinated by Jakarta Archdiocese's Service Bureau of Persons with Disabilities, were also involved in a public awareness event.

"We hope people will see persons with disabilities differently," Elisabeth Desy Kumalasari, who chairs the bureau, told ucanews.com.

There were many complaints from blind people, including a lack of sidewalk paving, steep grades and an absence of 'guiding blocks.' 

There are estimated to be 30 million Indonesians with disabilities.

Kumalasari questioned why many people did not view the disabled as equal members of the community.

Eddy, a parking attendant, claimed to understand the importance of accessible sidewalks for disabled people, even though vehicles under his care constitute obstacles.

"I have no choice," he said.

"I need this work to feed my family."

Popon, a street seller, maintained that she usually uses only half of the sidewalk for her cart. "There is still space for pedestrians, including disabled people," she said.

"I do not think I violate their rights."

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