Safety is a universal concern for everyone who uses public transport. It may be more of a concern for people with disabilities because of risks which may arise due to being persons with disability or using mobility aids.
Commuters are usually packed like sardines in both state-operated buses and minibuses (kombis) and privately-owned cars. This may not be conducive for people who have impairments that make them uncomfortable in crowds or when touched by strangers. So, both state-operated buses and minibuses (kombis) and privately-owned cars may feel unsafe to use for these people.
Another issue that may make someone feel unsafe is the fear of being hurt or being robbed by pickpockets or organised gangs. There are various ways in which people with disabilities may get hurt when they are using state-operated buses and minibuses (kombis) or privately-owned cars. When using state-operated buses and minibuses (kombis), some people with disabilities may be pushed by the crowds, fall and get injured while boarding the bus or minibus (this is despite there being a separate que for people with disabilities, pregnant women and elderly people, as discussed below) as people are sometimes impatient and want to get on the bus or minibus at the earliest opportunity. Such a risk is higher when using privately-owned cars as they usually pick up people at undesignated parking spaces, so they try to get people into the as fast as possible thus there is an increased risk of being pushed by the crowds, fall and get injured while boarding a privately-owned car.
In addition to this, there is the risk of the car driving off while passengers are still boarding if police officers or city council authorities are seen within the area. The car usually drives off even if there are people boarding the car, about to board the car or close to it because drivers usually don’t want police officers or city council authorities get to or into the car. If they manage to do so, they may arrest the driver, impound the car or both. If this happens, the driver may need to pay large sums of money to get out of jail or retrieve their car.
Therefore, when they see police officers or council authorities, drivers drive off in high speed to escape any possible consequence of operating illegally, even if it endangers their passengers. This may put some passengers with disabilities in danger as they may not see what is happening if they are visually impaired, they may not hear what is happening if they are deaf, or they may not be able to respond at all or respond quickly enough in such scenarios. In addition to the risk of people being hurt, there is a risk of mobility aids being damaged in such scenarios.
This is not the only thing that may result in mobility aids being damaged in public transport. Some mobility aids get damaged in public transport because they are handled the wrong way. For example, someone may fail to fold a wheelchair properly and it gets damaged or somebody disintegrates an electronic scooter but doesn’t properly packs the battery pack and it gets damaged. Such risks are present when using state-operated buses and minibuses (kombis) or privately-owned cars.
Finally, let’s talk about the risk of being robbed by pickpockets or organised gangs. The way both state-operated buses and minibuses (kombis) and privately-owned cars operate usually draws pickpockets into the picture. These pickpockets can steal from people while they are waiting for the bus (usually crowded), while boarding the bus or while people are in the bus (because they are packed like sardines). Thus, they can take advantage of the constant physical contact that happens in these places. These pickpockets can also specifically target to steal from people with disabilities because they have visual impairments and cannot see them, they have mobility limitations and cannot run after them or they have intellectual impairments and cannot tell someone what has happened. This increases the risk of people with disabilities being robbed by pickpockets.
An associated risk is that of being robbed by organised gangs. There is a high risk of this when using privately-owned cars. Some privately-owned cars are operated by organised gangs who take advantage of commuters. How they rob commuters differs from one gang to another. Some of them use violence against their victims or rape them. Such a risk is too high for some people with disabilities, especially because some gangs may target some groups of people with disabilities for the same reasons why pickpockets may target them.