Parking spaces for disabled

Tighter rules 'may ease problem only in the short term'

A man leaving his car in a reserved space at a block in Tampines Street 45. A committee has been formed to review the parking system for the disabled.
A man leaving his car in a reserved space at a block in Tampines Street 45. A committee has been formed to review the parking system for the disabled.PHOTO: DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Issuing fewer disabled parking labels to drivers who ferry passengers with disabilities, and tightening enforcement of their use will ease the problem of abuse in the short term, say welfare groups that serve those with disabilities.

But they added that longer-term measures, which they raised with the authorities in 2012, may be needed to solve the problem.

The authorities have formed a committee to review the eligibility criteria for drivers ferrying passengers with disabilities for Class 2 parking labels, and the adequacy of parking spaces for those with disabilities.

MORE SPACES NEEDED

It will be a relief if it is really enforced because the problem of abuse is huge. But a longer-term solution would be to build more of such spaces in high-demand areas such as hospitals because more people are using these labels now.

MR EDMUND WAN, president of the Handicaps Welfare Association

In 2012, the Centre of Enabled Living, which oversaw disability services and has now been renamed SG Enable, said it was holding consultations with stakeholders on whether a one-hour parking allowance for Class 2 label holders should be shortened or removed.

It said it would also look into redesigning the labels so that they are tamper-proof, in a bid to deter drivers who use forged or expired ones.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development said that it intends to keep the one-hour parking allowance for Class 2 vehicles.

The ministry also said that it is looking into making the label bigger and the expiry date more prominent so that it is easier for enforcement officers to spot offenders.

Mr Edmund Wan, president of the Handicaps Welfare Association, said: "It will be a relief if it is really enforced because the problem of abuse is huge. But a longer-term solution would be to build more of such spaces in high-demand areas such as hospitals because more people are using these labels now."

Mr Nicholas Aw, president of the Disabled People's Association, said that tightening the criteria for Class 2 label holders will not have much of an impact if the other Class 2 users continue to hog the space.

"It will be less confusing if there is just one label for drivers with disabilities, and caregivers be allowed to park briefly at drop-off points instead to minimise abuse," he said.

But retiree Seah Hong Tiang, 67, who used to have a Class 2 label to ferry his son - who has brittle bone disease and cannot stand on his own - to university, is glad that the one-hour concession will be kept.

Mr Seah said: "When I took him to university, I had to rush to park and carry him up the stairs to class and I received at least four summonses."

The authorities made a special concession for him due to his age and his son's condition, so he now has a Class 1 label to take his son, now 25, to work.

"Let's all learn to live together and respect the privileges that come with each label so that, if one really needs to use the space, he will be able to get it," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Tighter rules 'may ease problem only in the short term''. Print Edition | Subscribe