Rules on parking lots for persons with disabilities set to be tightened in Singapore

SINGAPORE: Demand is going up for accessible car-park lots reserved for persons with disabilities, and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will be revising the parking scheme to narrow down the pool of users.

disability parkingFrom Nov 1, those using less “bulky” mobility aids such as crutches and quad-sticks will no longer qualify for a special vehicle label distinguishing them as persons with disabilities. Only those who use “bulky” mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walking frames and lower-limb prostheses would be eligible for the lots, the ministry announced on Thursday (July 27).

Existing members of the scheme who do not meet the new eligibility criteria may still use the accessible lots until their labels expire.

There are about 6,000 accessible lots across car parks managed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and National Parks Board, the Ministry of National Development (MND) told TODAY.

On whether provisions are made for more lots to be added, its spokesperson said that the HDB and URA are “prepared to review” the allocation of more accessible lots “in areas of high demand on a needs basis and where feasible”.

Under the parking scheme, vehicles ferrying passengers with physical disabilities get an orange-coloured Class 2 label, and they can be parked at the designated lots for up to one hour. Those with disabilities who drive get a blue Class 1 label and they can park their vehicles in the lots for any duration.

In the last five years, the number of new Class 2 labels issued jumped by almost 60 per cent to 1,453, MSF said.

In the same period, there was an overall increase of 38 per cent to 1,758 for both classes of labels. This number is expected to fall by 10 per cent with changes to the scheme, it added.

Along with MND, MSF had consulted stakeholders, including persons of disabilities and their caregivers, voluntary welfare organisations, HDB and URA. “There was consensus to reserve accessible lots for those who require additional space for alighting and boarding their vehicles,” MSF said in a press release.

The car-park labels are redesigned as part of the new move: Both classes of labels are larger, each with a tamper-proof hologram and larger fonts for enforcement officers to see them easily. For the Class 2 label, a rotatable disc to indicate arrival times has been added, to strengthen enforcement of the time limit.

When the change kicks in on Nov 1, those under the scheme will need to display the new labels, and all new applicants and existing label-holders will be issued with the redesigned labels from mid-August.

Voluntary welfare organisations that spoke to TODAY after Thursday’s announcement criticised the move, saying it was a setback to the efforts made to improve the mobility of people with disabilities.

Mr Nicholas Aw, 51, president of the Disabled People Association, believes it might encourage those using clutches or quad-sticks to resort to using wheelchairs as a desperate means to get around the system.

He proposed that the authorities consider having drop-off bays for those holding Class 2 labels, and mentioned that Changi Airport has such a system in place.

Madam Low SL, 67, who holds a Class 1 label, is not looking forward to the change. She relies on a walking stick at times because she does not want to be “handicapped by a wheelchair” when she is out by herself. “How do I take out the wheelchair when I am driving alone? It is very difficult… I will have to wait for someone to help me.”

Mr Victor Tay, 46, president of the Association for Persons with Special Needs, said that the issue seems to be that these special lots are too “rare and few”. “It’s understandable that administrators want to prioritise those who are having difficulties (getting out of vehicles) by themselves… but (those who use) crutches also need assistance,” he said.

Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong, 55, who is also president of SPD (formerly known as The Society of the Physically Disabled), said: “People with disabilities should be included in all aspects of community living… We hope that the authorities and healthcare professionals will work closely together to better articulate the various disability conditions when developing schemes and policies affecting persons with disabilities.”

Source: todayonline

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