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Facilities for elderly, handicapped ignored

Shahin Akhter

The government has little attention to making different public places and transport system accessible to the elderly and people with disabilities all over the country.
There is no statistics of buildings which have facilities and structures for the conveniences of the elderly and people with disabilities.
Shamima Akter, a university student with physical disabilities, said it was very difficult for her to visit different places, including universities, offices and shopping malls due to lack of ramps or toilets suitable for the elderly and physically handicapped people.
Mohammad Yunus, a retired government officer, said that it was usually impossible for elderly people like him to get on buses which stopped at bus stands for a few seconds to let passengers on and off.
According to section 64 of Dhaka Mahanagar Building (Construction, Development, Protection and Removal) Rule, 2008, every residential or public building should have facilities like parking space, lift and lobby, for everyone, including the elderly and people with disabilities. 
The rule’s schedule 2 gives instructions to building owners to design doors, railings, stairs, ramps, lifts, washrooms, toilets, parking and waiting facilities for all, including the elderly and physically handicapped people. 
Department of social services sub-assistant engineer Sankar Kumar Hawlader told New Age on Thursday
that they had no statistics of buildings having such facilities for elderly and handicapped people.
A senior official of the department said that there should be a separate cell for monitoring if building owners were going by the rules..
Public works department additional chief engineer Abul Kashem told New Age that they were only responsible for construction of buildings while the department of architecture was responsible for designing the whole structure.
DoA’s deputy chief architect Shahadat Hossain said that they always followed the Dhaka Mahanagar Building Rule in designing buildings.
‘If anyone does not follow our design, authorities like Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha should take action for violation,’ he added.
An official, seeking anonymity, said in many cases corruption was to blame foro violation of the design approved by the department.
How Rajuk could approve construction of a building that does not have such facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities, the source added.
Rajuk member (planning) Sheikh Abdul Mannan told New Age on Saturday that they took immediate action if any building owner violated the Dhaka Mahanagar Building Rule.
In the transport sector, some buses keep nine seats reserved for women and elderly and handicapped people.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association secretary general K Enayet Ullah said that it was a general practice of transport owners to keep the seats reserved for women and old and physically handicapped people in city services, especially in Dhaka and Chittagong.
‘It is true that we are yet to follow the rule 100 per cent but we are trying to do so,’ he added.
According to the Help Age International, which works for ensuring the rights of elderly people, the population above 65 years of age stands at over 1.20 crore in the country.
According to the 5th Population and Housing Census 2011 the number of people with disability is only 1.4 per cent of Bangladesh’s total population of about 15.25 crore.
The percentage was much below that of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’ Household Income Expenditure Survey that found that people with disability constituted 9.07 per cent of the population.

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