|Vo Thi Hoang Yen uses a converted motorbike taxi. Safety and convenience are two features of a new motorbike taxi service provided by the HCM City Disability Research and Capacity Development Centre.— VNA/VNS Photo T hanh Vu
HCM CITY (VNS)— Safety and convenience are two features of a new motorbike taxi service provided by the HCM City Disability Research and Capacity Development Centre (DRD).
Nguyen Thanh Long of District 6 said he had used the services to commute to the HCM City Charitable Centre of Training and Creating Jobs for People with Disabilities to learn graphic design and to the DRD centre's employment club.
"The service has helped me travel more easily and helped me better integrate into society," said Long.
Before using the motorbike taxi, Long had faced problems in using buses, particularly when they were crowded.
Some buses had not picked him up when they saw he had a disability, Long said.
Tran Minh Lai of District 8, who is visually impaired, said that motorbike taxis were especially convenient because he works far from his home.
"I need to travel from District 8 to District 10 for work", Lai said, adding that the "motorbike taxi is a wonderful choice."
Lai said his wife registered for the service after finding out it via the media.
He said the drivers were friendly and safe.
The taxis have been specially designed to ensure safety for people with disabilities, he added.
Lai said he had saved nearly VND1 million (US$47.6) per month since using the service in September.
Because there are currently only 10 motorbikes and seven drivers, Lai uses the service just four times a week.
Nguyen Van Vu of District 11, who is visually impaired, said the drivers were punctual and he had not been late for work since using the service.
The service is a pilot project for people with disabilities in HCM City.
This is the first service in the country carried out by the DRD in co-operation with the Korean Human Rights Forum of Persons with Disabilities based in Jeju under the sponsorship of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
With total capital of US$108,000, the project's first phase will end in February.
The pickup services in the city's inner districts are currently free, but in the future a small fee will be charged, according to Luong Thi Quynh Lan, manager of the DRD's projects.
The centre said it had provided the service to 204 people with disabilities, with more than 4,000 turns, from July to December last year.
Lan said the need for such services was very high.
Because of the initial success, KOICA will continue the project over the next three years, said Kang Dae Gu, manager of KOICA's HCM City Liaison Office.
He said it was vital to continue the project to help the community change its thoughts about the transport needs of people with disabilities.
Lan said the centre planned to mobilise other sources from the country's organisations and individuals to ensure that the project would continue after the sponsorship ends. — VNS