A person with a hearing disability has written an open letter to the Chief Minister with a plea for the introduction of accessible public transport in Meghalaya next year.
Ferdinand Lyngdoh is a fellow of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, a PhD research scholar from North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) and a social worker for the welfare of persons with disabilities in the state.
“Before the end of this year, I am writing this letter to you with a hope that some positive change will be made on accessible transportation for persons with disabilities (accessible buses, accessible footpaths and accessible bus stops), which is one of the longest pending expectations from persons with disabilities in the state,” he said.
Meghalaya generally fails in all these aspects, even the state capital Shillong, where footpaths, if they exist at all, are generally narrow, not wheelchair friendly and have uneven surfaces as well as obstructions such as light poles and potholes present.
Buses, too, are not wheelchair friendly and there is no provision for blind or deaf passengers either.
Lyngdoh said that he had read about the CM’s vision of turning Meghalaya into a $10 billion economy in the coming years “but I am in doubt on how this will become a reality without accessible transportation for all.”
Transportation is key to education, livelihood and access to healthcare, so the economic dream will become a reality only when “no one is left behind”.
Lyngdoh had tried to meet with the CM but his requests for appointments had gone unanswered, he claimed. The state government has also formed a consultative committee on accessible transportation in August this year but it has not had a single meeting, he added.
“Therefore, I write to you to take up these issues seriously for the welfare of persons with disabilities in the state. People with disabilities also want to contribute and participate in society to make the vision of a $10 billion economy become a reality,” Lyngdoh signed off.