MobiMats for wheelchair-bound people
For years, 51-year-old Frank Kruger, from the Quad Para Association of KwaZulu-Natal, has been lobbying for access mats to be laid across the sand. His pleas were answered when a global social group called One Chance At Life (Ocal), a branch of which is based in Cape Town, supplied the mats to the eThekwini Municipality.
Kruger gave the MobiMat a test run at uShaka Beach on Tuesday. The MobiMat provides accessibility for wheelchairs on beach sand.
“It is an incredible feeling to have this rolled out in front of me. It is a huge achievement. Normally I would be sinking the moment the wheels made contact with the sand. I have not been so far down on the beach in 20 years.
“Some wheelchairs are heavy. Mine weighs about 160kg with me on board,” the father of two said.
Kruger was left paralysed after he had a blood clot 25 years ago.
He said the municipality and One Chance At Life had initially measured 45 metres from the uShaka Beach promenade concrete ramp to the waterline, but this had since increased because of the recent sand pumping. They now have to bring in another 15 metres of the mat.
Kruger would have to wait another week before he can comfortably dip his feet in the water.
Nicolene Mostert and Alun Davies, One Chance At Life co-founders, were there to witness the initiative, which Kruger said was the first of its kind in South Africa.
“This will enhance the status of Durban’s beaches once it is fully rolled out and maybe we can get it to other beaches as well. Ocal have begun working with the disability sector across the country and have now touched base with me in KwaZulu-Natal. The mat cost R170000 for the 45 metres,” Kruger said.
Davies said the mats would be rolled out daily by municipal lifeguards and stored safely at Ushaka Beach.
The mats have a 20-year lifespan.