Disabled activist in Bangkok damages lift at BTS station in accessibility protest

Disabled activist in Bangkok damages lift at BTS station in accessibility protest
PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

A wheelchair-bound activist punched an elevator panel and shattered the glass at the BTS Asok Station in Bangkok on Sunday afternoon in protest against the lift being locked.

Manit "Saba" Inpim, founder and administrator of the "Accessibility Is Freedom" Facebook page advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, then reported himself to police to confess to the property damage.

He then posted pictures and an account of the incident, which captured the public attention.

In his latest post on Monday morning, Manit said he would speak to the media at the BTS Asok Station to explain his actions.

In that post, he also encouraged people to look at his previous posts about problems with BTS elevators for people with disabilities.

In one article, he said an elevator design allowed passengers to board at the road and be transported directly to the platform without having to buy a ticket, affecting security and prompting staff to keep it locked.

It is only accessible when a passenger pushes a button and staff unlock the door, which forces the person to wait in an area that is not sheltered from the rain or sun.

Manit said the design showed how little consideration BTS engineers had for disabled people during their design process.

Meanwhile, an administrator of the Facebook community page BKKTrains.com posted that he agreed that the BTS lifts had to be improved for better accessibility, but disagreed with the violent act, which could affect other people trying to access the lift.

The unidentified administrator added that he suspected the incident might have stemmed from the station not having enough staff to serve passengers at the time.

When the BTS started operations in December 1999, only five stations at Mor Chit, Asok, On Nut, Chong Nonsi and Siam were equipped with elevators. All except for the Siam station lifts allowed passenger to proceed directly to the train platform and had locked doors.

In 2015, the Administrative Court ordered Bangkok authorities and the BTS to install lifts at all 23 stations, but the work is still ongoing. Some stations have been equipped with new elevators that do not have locked doors, while Mor Chit and Chong Nonsi have been modified to have ticket scanners at the lift door.

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