Tiong Bahru now more accessible to wheelchair users

Changes include removing bollards in alley, shortening bike rack to make way for ramp

Tanjong Pagar GRC grassroots adviser Indranee Rajah joining wheelchair users as they travelled on an enhanced barrier-free ramp in Tiong Bahru-Seng Poh estate yesterday. The changes were made in the area between SPD Ability Centre and Tiong Bahru Mar
Tanjong Pagar GRC grassroots adviser Indranee Rajah joining wheelchair users as they travelled on an enhanced barrier-free ramp in Tiong Bahru-Seng Poh estate yesterday. The changes were made in the area between SPD Ability Centre and Tiong Bahru Market.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Several enhancements have made the Tiong Bahru-Seng Poh estate more accessible for mobility-challenged people.

One initiative involved shortening a bike rack to make way for a new wheelchair ramp, while concrete bollards were removed from a back alley to allow wheelchairs to pass through. A new crossing was also created in Seng Poh Road.

The changes were made in the area between SPD Ability Centre - the Peng Nguan Street headquarters of the local charity group that serves people with disabilities - and Tiong Bahru Market.

The improvements, known as Tiong Bahru Cares, are part of an initiative by Tanjong Pagar GRC grassroots adviser Indranee Rajah and Seng Poh Residents' Committee.

They worked closely with SPD and government agencies, such as the Land Transport Authority and Housing Board, to identify appropriate spots for wheelchair journeys. Mobility-challenged residents and their families were also consulted.

Ms Indranee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Education and Finance, said at the launch yesterday: "This one project alone just shows you how powerful it can be when different people come together, and bring their ideas together, to do something.

"It's small things, but this project shows you how small things count."

Wheelchair user Mohd Razali, 44, is happy about the changes, especially as he frequents the route between Tiong Bahru Market and the SPD Ability Centre, where he is a trainee of various trades.

He told The Straits Times: "This will make it easier for me to go to the market to eat my favourite food."

Built in the 1930s, Tiong Bahru is one of Singapore's oldest housing estates and is known for its art deco-style of flats.

Ms Indranee noted that the history behind the area was part of the challenge persons with disabilities faced moving around.

 
 
 
 

"This is a very old estate built many years ago, and when it was built, it was not catered for people with disabilities," she said.

The improvement works were all made without affecting the facade of any flats, said a statement.

Ms Joyce Wong, SPD's director for resource and impact, hopes the changes are just the "beginning of the journey" for making lives better for residents.

"And it's not just for persons with disabilities. We hope we can somehow make some changes to make things easier for the elderly, too.

"Tiong Bahru, being a conservation estate, only comes with stairs so some elderly folks find it difficult to walk down.

"We'll see what we can do, because we really want our neighbourhood to be an inclusive one."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2020, with the headline 'Tiong Bahru now more accessible to wheelchair users'. Print Edition | Subscribe