Muscat, August 21 – With the car parking slots reserved for them having been “grabbed’ at many places, the physically challenged in the Sultanate have sought stricter punishment against violators.
They have demanded effective awareness campaigns besides a new strategy to “safeguard their basic rights”.
They appealed to the motorists occupying parking slots reserved for the disabled to “be more considerate” to their plight as it causes them a lot of inconvenience.
Hajira, an Omani medical student confined to a wheelchair after she met with an accident, says that more often than not, she has had to park her car elsewhere and wheel herself to offices as “her space” was taken away by fully abled people. “If you want to take our parking slots, please take our disability too,” she says.
Oman’s laws stress on providing the disabled with an equal opportunity in all fields and urges people to respect their rights in all matters.
“It’s not a small issue when their parking areas are occupied by the ‘abled’,” says Najat al Busaidy, Head, Occupational Therapy, at the Armed Forces Medical Services.
“By occupying their parking slots, we are taking away a big right given by Oman’s constitution to the physically challenged people. It is inhuman,” says Al Busaidy at Oman Association for the Disabled.
The country’s traffic law stipulates that any parking area reserved for the physically challenged is their right and anyone encroaching the same (even for a short duration) will be fined for wrong parking.
“It’s good there’s a fine for irregular parking, but I strongly advocate such offenders should be treated as ‘those not giving way to ambulance’, and fine them RO 500,” says Al Busaidy.
The Muscat Municipality’s traffic inspectors slap a fine of RO 100 on those parking their cars in the space reserved for ambulances. Those parking vehicles in public areas and sidewalks for advertisement purposes are fined RO 500.
Tariq al Khaboori, who has helped the disabled dive under international trainers at the Marina Bander, felt the offenders should be named and shamed on social media. “The Royal Oman Police (ROP) should allow us to take photographs of vehicles blocking the way of the disabled or taking away their parking slots, and circulate them on social media so such incidents can be reduced.”