Brits- The Department of Community Safety and Transport Management, in partnership with the Madibeng Local Municipality and other stakeholders, have directed efforts towards creating awareness around persons with disabilities and the challenges they face as road users.
Accessing public places, especially for pedestrians, passengers, or motorists, can be challenging for persons with disabilities and have to be extra cautious when using the roads.
In celebration of Global Road Safety Week, which is observed every other year, the Department aligned with stakeholders to refurbish parking bays for persons with disabilities at the Brits CBD in Madibeng Municipality. This will make it easier to identify and access transport, social services, healthcare and other services.
The Bojanala District Department Director, Sipho Maduma, says highlighting the plight of the vulnerable people in society is part of road safety education which is aimed at influencing road user behaviour.
Many people do not understand the kind of challenges that one faces when for instance, their mobility, eyesight, and speech are limited. For instance, people tend to use designated parking bays that are not meant for them; this adds to the existing challenges that a person with a disability already has.
“Through this campaign, we have lobbied our social partners to raise awareness and educate people on being more mindful of others when using and accessing roads. This initiative, we believe, will ultimately have a huge impact on reducing road accidents and fatalities,” said Mr Maduma.
The Acting Executive Mayor for Madibeng Local Municipality, Cllr Esther Bopape, says strategic areas around town have been identified for repainting.
It is important that basic services be accessible to the public; we have identified the municipality, police station, Behrens taxi rank, schools, the local clinic and the social services centre for remarking.
“We have also reached out to the Meerhof Special School to engage with learners and empower them so that the message of responsible road usage and general road safety is understood at a young age,” added Cllr Bopape.
45-year-old Veronica Baloyi is a paraplegic and has been driving for most of her life. She says the most challenging thing about her experience on the road is the lack of adherence to road rules by other motorists, and she believes that this intervention will go a long way in ensuring compliance with the law.
“The CBD often gets busy, and parking becomes limited. As a motorist with a disability, I struggle to reach designated parking bays, as most people would claim that they don’t see the signs.
“I believe repainting will change that and that people will think twice before taking designated spots. We are being provided with a platform to express our concerns and, most importantly, have them addressed as they are today,” Baloyi said.
Global Road Safety Week is a biannual seven days set aside in May to focus on awareness about road safety and the significance of taking the necessary measures to prevent road accidents. The theme is “Rethink Mobility”.