People with disabilities protest over lack of facilities on public transport

Disabied People South Africa (DPSA) members from Mitchells Plain, Bonteheuwel, Khayelitsha, and Wesbank branches protested at the bus terminus in the Town Centre on Monday July 27.
Disabled people took to the streets
this week to protest the lack of
inclusive facilities on public transport in Mitchell’s Plain. 
Disabled People South Africa
(DPSA)members from Mitchell’s
Plain, Langa, Bonteheuwel, Khayelitsha and Wesbank protested at the
bus terminus in the Town Centre
on Monday July 27 at 10am. 
Mitchell’s Plain SAPS spokesperson, Captain Ian Williams, confirmed the protest but said no one
was harmed or injured on Monday
July 27. 
Sulyman Stellenboom, the
co-ordinator of the Greater Bulls
Disabled Sports Club, and founder
and chairperson of Bread not
Bullets, said disabled people were
excluded from the public transport
system. 
Mr Stellenboom was left with a
disability after he was involved in a
motorbike accident. 
He said transport costs were
higher for disabled people as those
using wheelchairs had to pay an
extra R10 to transport these on
buses.
He said they had reached out to
the transport officials and the City
of Cape Town to assist them but
their pleas had fallen on deaf ears. 
The organisation is demanding
that disabled people and pensioners be transported to and from
grant fund collection points on
the second day of every month and
that they be provided with chairs to
sit on as queues are often very long. 
They would also like a bus service
that transports them beyond Mitchell’s Plain, said Mr Stellenboom,
adding that they planned to visit
various communities to meet with
representatives of the taxi associations and Golden Arrow Bus
Service (GABS). 
Felicity Purchase, the City of
Cape Town’s mayoral committee
member for transport, said the
City provided the Dial-a-Ride public transport service for those with
special needs who were unable to
make use of conventional public transport. 
The service, however, had been
cancelled due to the unrest, she
said.
Of Monday’s protest by DPSA,
she said: “We take note of the protest and will respond once we have
unpacked their issues.”
Golden Arrow’s public relations
manager, Bronwen Dyke-Beyer,
confirmed that they were scheduled to meet with a delegation
today, Wednesday July 29, to discuss their concerns and requirements.
“We empathise with their experience and are open to discussion. 
“However, it is essential to clarify
that Golden Arrow operates on a
specific contract with the provincial Department of Transport. This contract does not make
any reference to universal accessibility as it was understood that a
specifically tailored service would
be offered via Dial-a-Ride,” she
said. 

To provide a universally accessible service, their contract would
have to be revised and the bulk of
their buses retrofitted which would
reduce the carrying capacity of
buses and increase costs, she said. 

On routes where they do operate accessible low-floor buses, the
uptake from wheelchair users has
been very low, and the bulk of their
fleet does have swing-out steps for
easier accessibility, said Ms DykeBeyer. 

For more information on this
issue, contact Mr Stellenboom via
email at sossigns1@gmail.com or
on 078 333 3072.