Parliament: Barriers in common areas must not impede barrier-free accessibility

In February, the installation of three railings at the bottom of a Mei Ling Street block in Queenstown garnered flak for stifling the void deck space.
In February, the installation of three railings at the bottom of a Mei Ling Street block in Queenstown garnered flak for stifling the void deck space.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Barriers in common areas such as void decks and walkways must not obstruct the elderly and people with disabilities, and may be removed if they do.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said in Parliament on Tuesday that town councils must comply with rules to provide barrier-free access, under the Building and Construction Authority's Code on Accessibility in the Built Environment.

Mr Lee was responding to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Daniel Goh, who had asked if there are guidelines on the installations of barriers in common spaces, in terms of how they may affect accessibility for the elderly, people with disabilities, and community activities.

The erection of barriers in common spaces at some housing estates to deter reckless cyclists and stop various activities has generated debate recently.

Mr Lee said when considering whether to install such barriers, town councils, which manage common property in public housing estates, must abide by the Building Control Act, which stipulates that any barrier-free access must not be obstructed, removed, altered or made unusable.

"If barriers are put up such that they unduly obstruct a walkway intended as an accessible route, the Commissioner of Building Control may require the town council to remove them," he said.

Mr Lee added that the public can approach their town councils or the Building and Construction Authority if they have any complaints about such barriers.

In February, the installation of three railings at the bottom of a Mei Ling Street block in Queenstown garnered flak for stifling the void deck space.

Tanjong Pagar Town Council said the railings were put up to stop football games and are removable in the event of social functions such as weddings and funerals.

In March, photos circulated online of concrete kerbs at a ramp in Bedok North and railings at a footpath in Marsiling sparked outrage after netizens pointed out that they may hamper wheelchair access.

The respective town councils had said that the barriers were built as a deterrent against reckless cyclists and motorcyclists.