Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 180


Take an extra step and make our city more accessible and inclusive

For many residents in Hong Kong, picking up groceries from the market is a simple, daily routine. Yet for wheelchair users, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly, this could be a daunting task, as they need to manoeuvre through countless barriers in their journey to the market. Take the market in Heng On Estate, Ma On Shan as an example. The main access to the market used to be connected by stairs, which made it difficult if not impossible for PWDs and the elderly to reach the market. For years, the residents have been requesting for the provision of barrier-free access but to no avail. Thereafter a complaint was lodged to the EOC under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance. Unfortunately, the case could not be settled by conciliation and talks came to a standstill. But instead of closing the file, the EOC took an extra step, and arranged for the parties concerned, including the Link REIT and the Owners’ Corporation to continue the discussion. Eventually, agreement was reached, with the Link REIT installing a ramp as part of the renovation works of the market early this year.

On 13 February, EOC Chairperson Professor Alfred CHAN Cheung-ming released a Chinese article in Stand News, detailing the background of the case, and the challenges faced by the EOC in handling and resolving the complaint. Professor Chan explained that legal action might not be the best solution for this case, given the extensive time and costs involved. Instead, by making use of the alternative dispute resolution process, including conciliation, mediation and negotiation, a settlement agreeable to all parties could be reached efficiently, and a positive relationship and goodwill could be maintained.