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Harambee Buses Accommodate the disabled community

11 April 2018

Buses modified for people with disabilities are being introduced to Tembisa following a project introduced by the Department of Transport. This project will deliver passengers from hospital to hospital. Photos: Cebile Ntuli.

People with disabilities are introduced to the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network

The City of Ekurhuleni introduced people with disabilities to the new Harambee bus infrastructure on March 7. Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality spokesperson Themba Gadebe said comfortability, safety and reliability are what characterises the BRT buses and the dedicated routes on the 1st phase of the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN).

On the day, T-Shad members and other people with disabilities boarded the BRT buses at RTJ Namane Drive in Tembisa to test the buses’ readiness to accommodate wheelchairusers, blind and deaf passengers. MMC for Transport and Planning Councillor Petrus Mabunda led the demonstration and feedback session that followed in terms of the Universal Design Access Plan (UDAP).

Mabunda said people with disabilities were introduced to the system so that they can start using the buses.

“Historically you would have a situation where people with disabilities had no access to public transport in the city.

“It became difficult for them to partake in economic activities and any other social activities. “They wouldn’t have an opportunity to go to work, visit relatives or do any other thing that a person would usually want to do without the assistance of other people, but with the newly built infrastructure, we are making it easier for them to start lead normal lives.

“They can now use a bus, go to the mall, watch a movie and get back home.

“The intention is to create awareness that the buses are here and have the infrastructure,” said Mabunda.

He added that above all, the city wanted people with disabilities to contribute as to what else needs to be added to the IRPTN system to accommodate them.

He said they are in talks with taxi owners to ensure that even the vehicles that will be operating on feeder routes will have to conform to the UDAP system by being accessible to people with disabilities.

“We don’t want a situation where our buses are universally accessible but the taxi operators that are supposed to be the feeders to the system have less or inadequate accessibility to people with disabilities.

“Out of this process all of us, with the taxi industry and people with disabilities are putting our heads together to look into how best we can move the City of Ekurhuleni forward.”

Amanda Gibberd from the national Department of Transport said there is an improvement in the public transport and the City of Ekurhuleni is moving in the right direction.

“As South Africa we have signed the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, which says that all cities should be accessible to everyone, so that’s the direction that we are supposed to be moving in and we have always been moving in that direction because it is in line with what the constitution already says,” mentioned Gibberd.

Wheelchair user, motivational speaker Nonhlanhla Bakasa said she had a great day at the UDAP workshop where she learned about the Harambee bus routes and how the system works.

“The system makes sure that each and every person who lives in Ekurhuleni is able to use that bus,” said Bakasa

Jantji Ngwenyama
The Tembisan

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