Turkish Ministry of Transport aims to provide accessible sea transportation

Middle East, October 9 2012

ANKARA: The new “unhindered seas project” by the Transportation Ministry aims to provide accessible sea transportation for persons with disabilities.

Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım told Anatolia news agency that taking the necessary measures for persons with disabilities to reach and use sea transportation vehicles safely was important. “We will implement the ‘unhindered seas project,’ which will give persons with disabilities the chance to travel in conditions equal to other passengers and take some measures for them without demanding an extra charge. From now on, the seas will also be unhindered.”

Yıldırım said the accommodations made for persons with disabilities regarding harbors and seaports were being assessed as part of the project. “According to the assessments, the proportion of ports having toilets and communication points for persons with disabilities is 7 percent, while only 10 percent of them conform to accessibility standards. Only 6 percent of ports have points for calling for help, while 14 percent of them have resting areas,” Yıldırım said.

“These findings show that our ports and harbors cannot meet the needs of persons with disabilities. But with this project, we will increase these rates. Thus we will overcome the obstacles in the seas. With this project, persons with disabilities will be provided with as high a level of service as other citizens,” he said.

Yıldırım said they had made accessibility standards for airports and railway stations, adding that Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport was Turkey’s first airport to be accessible for persons with disabilities. Yıldırım said Turkish Telecommunication had begun to send  clients with vision disabilities telephone bills in Braille and special toilets and sections were allocated for persons with disabilities on express trains. He said the Marmaray Project, which is regarded as the project of the century, would also be the project of the century for persons with disabilities. “We designed Marmaray completely in accordance with our persons with disabilities needs.

With the ‘Ben de Varım’ project, started in 2009, we enabled persons with disabilities to be employed in call centers,” Yıldırım said.

Yıldırım also said they aimed to expand the projects for persons with disabilities until they cover all means of transportation.

The minister said there were about 8 million persons with disabilities living in Turkey and the ministry was working to meet their needs, adding that awareness about disabilities had developed in recent years in Turkey.

“There are about 8 million persons with disabilities, while 65 million citizens are at risk of becoming disabled in Turkey. But we are not aware of the critical conditions disability causes. As the government, we have provided important services to benefit persons with disabilities, since we know the importance of the subject.

We focused on the matter within our ministry. In only a few years, we not only solved our persons with disabilities’ transportation and accessibility problems, but also enabled them to be employed,” Yıldırım said.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

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