Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – Blind and visually impaired people in Greater Jakarta are vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic as they have yet to be included on the government's list of those at risk from the virus, according to members of the Indonesian Blind Union (Pertuni).
These people, mainly working as masseurs and cracker sellers, are calling on the central and regional administration to include them on the risk list as they have been unable to receive social aid in some areas.
In Jakarta, for example, the blind have not yet received the social aid packages consisting of staple foods, cloth masks and soap that have been distributed by the city administration since April 9.
"The city's Social Affairs Agency told the disability organizations that it had distributed the packages to ojol [app-based motorcycle taxi] drivers and other poor groups," Eka Setiawan of Jakarta Pertuni said on Friday.
Eka further said they had been told they would receive packaged meals, instead of the aid packages. He assumed that the agency did not have a social aid quota for the disabled despite having submitted their data to the agency long before the implementation of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in the city.
"If it happens in the capital city, how about in other regions?" he said.
The next phase of the distribution in Jakarta will run from April 19 to 23. However, Eka said the blind had not yet received any news about this.
A similar situation has also occurred in South Tangerang. The blind are struggling to get social assistance as the local administration does not provide a special quota for people with disabilities.
"Our members have tried to register with several subdistricts but they have been rejected. The quota is only available for workers with daily income. In the meantime we, the blind, are relying on daily income too," South Tangerang Pertuni's Sapto Wibowo told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Both Eka and Sapto said some members of the public had supported some of the blind people in the two regions, mainly in the form of food and cash. However, many are still in need of social aid.
Sapto added that most of them were mainly in need of financial assistance as they were renting places to live. "We need money to pay rent and buy mobile phone data packages. And although some have received staple food packages, some others still need it."