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Healthy skip queues in wheelchairs

GREEN channels at the Expo site, set up to provide convenient access for disadvantaged groups, are being used by some people who are capable of walking but get wheelchairs to avoid hours of queuing to enter a pavilion.

Visitors usually have to wait two or three hours to get into some popular pavilions, but babies, pregnant women, the disabled and people aged 70 or above are able to skip the snaking queues and directly enter most pavilions.

More able bodied visitors are taking advantage of loopholes that don't require a certificate of disability for renting a wheelchair and are enjoying the quick pass.

A local graduate student wrote a letter to the city's administrators, describing the behavior as improper or uncivilized.

The letter said some "handicapped" were so energetic that they would get up from their wheelchairs right after entering the pavilion, losing any difficulty they might have had in walking.

A woman in her 40s admitted to Shanghai Daily last weekend that, although she was sitting in a wheelchair, she had no problem with walking. And her accompanying sister-in-law pushed a wheelchair carrying her daughter, a healthy teenager.The family used the method to gain quick access to the Thailand Pavilion.

About 1,500 wheelchairs are available at the Expo site but they are not all borrowed by people with standing or walking problems. The number of chairs is insufficient to meet visitor needs.

At the green channel into the Switzerland Pavilion, one of the top 10 most popular, more than 20 people in wheelchairs were lining up yesterday.

Yang Yue, a media official with the Spain Pavilion, said staff feel helpless if people fake being disabled and so far they do not have any solutions to tackling such situations.

"We can't just ask a person in a wheelchair to stand up and show us whether he needs it," Yang said. People aged over 80 in wheelchairs and kids under 2 years old are entitled to use the green channel into pavilions.

Yang believed that people at the wheelchair rent service should be responsible. She said they ought to have some procedure to check whether a visitor really needed a wheelchair.

However, each pavilion has its own rules about who uses the green channel.

At the France Pavilion, staff check visitor ID cards to see whether they are 70 years old, and demand to see a certificate of disability.

The Germany Pavilion has reserved tickets for visitors in wheelchairs and if they are unable to get one they have to wait in the queues.

At the highly popular Saudi Arabia Pavilion, only pregnant women and wheelchair users have privileges.

The practice of cutting into lines is also prominent and has raised other visitors' anger.


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