Monday, August 31, 2009

Residents cheer barrier-free access at Khatib MRT station

ELDERLY residents at Nee Soon South are getting a leg-up with Khatib MRT station now fully equipped with barrier-free access facilities.

Work began in January this year on two new ramps, a covered shelter connecting the 20-year-old station to the nearest bus stop in Yishun Avenue 2, as well as an additional drop-off point.
The refurbishments cost $2 million.

Many of the estate's residents have to walk through Khatib station to get to the nearest overhead bridge or the pedestrian crossing.

For the estate's elderly folk, who make up more than half of the approximately 50,000 residents, climbing the stairs to get to the station was no mean feat.

One resident, Madam Wong Lay See, cheered when the station was outfitted with ramps. The 85-year-old walks through the station to get to the market every day.

Said her son, who is in his 50s and wanted to be known only as Mr Foo: 'We've been waiting for this. It makes a lot of difference for my mum because it's now more convenient and safe for her.'
The station, which has only one lift from the station floor to the train platform, was built in 1988. Before enhancements were made, there was only a ramp to the nearest taxi stand.

Madam Woon Eng Say said the new facilities would benefit not only the elderly, but also those with children. 'I found it a struggle to pull my nephew's stroller up the stairs on my own,' said the 49-year-old, who baby-sits her nephew.

Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC Lee Bee Wah told reporters yesterday that residents had asked for the facilities many times.

Already, more than half of the flats in the Nee Soon South division are outfitted with barrier-free access facilities.

Ms Lee, who is also adviser to Nee Soon South grassroots organisations, said the next step would be to explore the feasibility of having a lift installed at the overhead bridge spanning Yishun Avenue 2.

The additional features at the Khatib station are part of the Land Transport Authority's islandwide programme to make pedestrian walkways, access to MRT stations, taxi and bus shelters as well as public roads barrier-free.

The $60 million programme, which began in December 2006, is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

Currently, all MRT stations have at least one entrance fitted with a lift and a barrier-free route.

Source, Straits Times 31 Aug 2009

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