Up to all of us to make society inclusive
Lift breakdowns at Golden Mile Tower put issue of accessibility under spotlight
In a city of high-rise buildings and apartments, lift breakdowns seem to be part and parcel of life.
It seems that the most people can do, after complaining about the issue, is to resign themselves to taking the stairs.
But lift breakdowns are not trivial matters, as seen by the four lifts at Golden Mile Tower being non-functional for over five days.
While there, I saw several seniors in their 60s struggling to haul themselves up the stairs to their offices that are 15 storeys up and above.
Others with knee issues huffed and panted their way up, taking frequent breaks every two to three levels.
There were those who carried laptops and heavy briefcases.
Some had packed their own lunches and were carrying the containers up the stairs, to save themselves the trip down for lunch.
Something I had not thought about was how the breakdowns would have affected those who maintained the building, such as the cleaners.
Rows of cleaning trolleys and equipment stood at the stairwell because the cleaners were not able to get them up the stairs. I was told they took just a bucket and mop, leaving the rest of their equipment behind.
Some companies also made alternative arrangements such that older employees or those with chronic ailments could work from home or take a few days off.
It might just be lift breakdowns, but this little issue has had such a drastic impact on the way people worked in that one building.
For me as a young reporter, it might not have been such a grievous issue at first glance.
ISSUE OF ACCESSIBILITY
But for the older workers who had to climb the stairs, it was clear the problem was more than just tired feet or aching muscles. For some, it meant that they could not work at all.
All this points to the bigger issue of accessibility in Singapore.
So often, people with disabilities have told me that they were unable to even get their groceries at a supermarket, simply because someone else had parked in the accessible carpark lot.
An accessible lot is larger than a normal carpark lot to accommodate mobility devices such as wheelchairs. This problem would be exacerbated if the building they wanted to enter did not have a working lift.
With the rapidly ageing population in Singapore, more has to be done to cater to their needs.
In September last year, it was reported that the pool of citizens aged 65 and older grew to 14.4 per cent, compared to 9.4 per cent in 2007.
For one, the elderly might have chronic illnesses that make physical exertion dangerous. They might also have physical conditions that make climbing stairs difficult.
Some use mobility devices, which mean step-free access and ramps are needed to allow them to enter public places.
Furthermore, the ageing population means there will be more older people in the workplace.
The responsibility of creating an inclusive and functioning society does not just rest on those who maintain the environment and keep the lifts functional.
It also depends on the efforts of everyone.
It takes the entire community to truly make Singapore a home for all.