Fri, Nov 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Interior minister attacks inertia on disabled access

ENTRY FOR ALL Lee Yi-yang said local officials are not enforcing the laws aimed at making buildings accessible to the disabled, and he named the 10 `worst' buildings

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Local governments have been negligent in their duty to hold public buildings accountable for a lack of facilities for the disabled, Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) said yesterday.

Singling out 10 buildings nationwide for their lack of accessibility to the disabled and their lack of safety features, Lee slammed the buildings' administrators, as well as county and city governments for waiving the rules aimed at creating a user-friendly environment for physically challenged people.

"Again and again, the ministry [of the interior] has called on county and city governments to issue deadlines to such public buildings to improve their infrastructure for the disabled, and then fine the buildings' administrators when they fail to meet those deadlines," Lee said.

He said local governments have ignored the ministry's requests.

With the International Day of Disabled Persons, which is a UN-recognized holiday, just a week away, Lee said now was the perfect time to make clear the ministry's determination to foster an inclusive environment for the disabled.

Public pressure on negligent administrators, therefore, was in order, he added.

The minister then displayed photographs of the 10 buildings he cited for violating the central government's rules for making public spaces safe and accessible for the disabled.

Back in March the ministry asked 48 researchers from National Taipei University of Technology and Feng Chia University to inspect 238 buildings nationwide whose interior space exceeded 10,000m2.

The buildings were listed by county and city governments as violators of safety and accessibility codes, a ministry press release said.

The 10 buildings spotlighted at yesterday's press conference were rated to be the worst violators.

Three buildings in Taipei were among the 10: Universal City Cinema on Nanjing East Road, the Far Eastern Department Store on Baoqing Road and the Asia World Shopping Mall.

A Carrefour store in Taipei County was also among the 10.

Most of the venues were cited for a lack of bathroom facilities or walkways for the disabled, or other instances of poor infrastructure planning.

Lee said that the Construction and Planning Agency would post the names, addresses and violations of some 60 other violators -- each surpassing 10,000m2 of floor space -- on its Web site soon.

Agency spokesman Cheng Yuan-liang (鄭元良) told reporters that in addition to applying public pressure, the ministry was considering withholding certain subsidies to local governments as punishment for not cracking down on violators in their districts.

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