SINGAPORE: A 63-year-old cleaner in Bedok, is drawing attention to the daily struggle he faces, climbing 132 steps up and down an overhead bridge at Bedok Reservoir Road to get to work.
This enduring feat is made even more challenging as the cleaner, known as Mr Lim, has osteoporosis.
He told Shin Min Daily News that it was difficult to climb them, and expressed his hope that authorities would consider installing lifts at the bridge, making it accessible for people with impaired mobility.
In response, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said they are exploring options in the area.
Cleaner climbs overhead bridge in Bedok for work
Mr Lim resides at Blk 615 Bedok Reservoir Road and works at a factory situated opposite the bridge.
Despite living and working near the MRT, the overhead bridge forms an insurmountable obstacle for him and other elderly residents.
He mentioned that he had been climbing the bridge since he was younger, but with the passage of time, he has grown older now.
“Now that I have osteoporosis, it takes a lot of effort for me to climb up and down the stairs.
“Even though it takes around 20 minutes for me to cross the bridge, I have to do it for a living,” he said.
Shin Min reporters visited the bridge, which spans between Blk 613 Bedok Reservoir Road and Chai Chee Lane’s industrial area, and counted a total of 132 steps.
The estimated height was equivalent to climbing six HDB floors, emphasizing the physically demanding nature of this daily journey.
Accessibility concerns for the elderly and handicapped
Mr Lim’s predicament is not unique. Another cleaner, 60-year-old Ho, also has to climb the bridge to get to work.
She shared her surprise upon discovering this daily challenge after transferring to the factory near the MRT, illustrating the need for accessibility for all, particularly older individuals.
“I transferred to the factory here before the pandemic because I thought it was near the MRT.
“I didn’t know I had to climb this bridge. I’m still well enough to climb, but what about older people?” she said.
In contrast, younger residents like Song, 33, view the bridge climb as a form of “exercise,” but they empathize with the difficulties it presents for the elderly.
It’s not only the elderly who face issues; wheelchair-bound individuals are unable to use the bridge, further underscoring the need for accessible infrastructure.
Shin Min reported upon discovery that without the overhead bridge, pedestrians from Bedok Reservoir Road would need to take a bus to access Chai Chee Lane, leading to a wait of approximately one hour.
Netizen comments on infrastructure for elderly
Commenters on the internet have also been emphasizing the necessity of infrastructure like a lift on an overhead bridge.
Some have stated that Singapore’s aging population is growing rapidly, making it potentially problematic in the future if there isn’t infrastructure to support and accommodate them.
One user suggested, “Maybe can install lifts like what many new overhead bridges have these days.”
Another user expresses a similar view, urging the authorities to install lifts on overhead bridges located in or around older neighbourhoods with a high concentration of elderly residents.
They provide an example of this being successfully implemented, citing the overhead bridge facing Lorong Lew Lian and Upper Serangoon Road.
A user who identified themselves as a 70-year-old person mentioned that overhead bridges present difficulties for them.
“I can’t do it… I am always looking for lift at overhead bridges,” the user said.
On the other hand, another user highlighted that this issue doesn’t exclusively impact the elderly but also individuals with disabilities.
The user explained that their child, who has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair for mobility, faces obstacles due to the absence of public area lifts.
They emphasized that their child is not the only person with a disability in the country and suggested the importance of increasing public facilities to assist such individuals.
The user remarked, “It’s high time for those responsible for public facilities to take into account the needs of individuals with disabilities in their planning.”
LTA evaluating need for lift installation
In response to inquiries, a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesperson stated that they are currently evaluating the possibility of installing a lift at the bridge.
Meanwhile, slopes for bicycles and wheelchair users have already been constructed to provide some relief.
The spokesperson emphasized the challenges and costs associated with building lifts for overhead bridges and mentioned that they prioritize such initiatives in locations with a significant elderly population or individuals with impaired mobility, often near hospitals.
The LTA also considers community feedback in assessing the need for lifts at specific locations.
Currently, 83 pedestrian overhead bridges have lifts installed, with 24 more anticipated to be completed by 2025.
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