Pretoria - The World White Cane Day walk, which took place in Hatfield yesterday, was used to raise awareness about the plight of the blind and visually impaired people.
Nearly 1 000 people took part in the event hosted by the City of Tshwane in partnership with the non-profit organisation called Garden Social Services.
Participants, mostly the blind and visually impaired, started walking from the University of Pretoria using canes to feel the ground ahead of their feet while heading to Loftus Versfeld, which was the finishing point.
Organisers said the cane symbolised independence and support for the blind and visually impaired. Roads and transport MMC Katlego Mathebe said non-profit organisations and other departments in the municipality, such as health and social development, helped make the event a success.
“The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the plight of the blind people and the visually impaired people so that the community can learn to live in harmony with them, and also for them, the cane is their tool of independence (so) that they can live like any other human being,” she said.
Mathebe said the city was making headway in improving universal accessibility to its infrastructure and buses.
“From the transport side, our A Re Yeng buses are universally accessible because they have a platform that will be on the same wavelength as the stations so that the visually impaired, blind people and people living with disabilities can access the buses,” Mathebe said.
Inside the buses, she said, there were red seats reserved for the visually impaired, the blind and people living with disabilities.
“On our Tshwane Bus Services (TBS) buses, we are making progress. Just about 70% of our TBS buses are having a low platform for accessibility as well,” she said. The road infrastructure, according to Mathebe, has the tactile paving to assist with the safety of blind commuters.
Abubakir Chougaly, one of the directors of Garden Social Services, said the project was co-ordinated and sponsored by the organisation.
“The blind people and the visually impaired are all part of our organisation. We develop them through education and many other aspects. In total, what we really do is social services and serving humanity.”
He expressed gratitude to the Muslims of Tshwane for sponsoring the event and all participants.
Social development MMC Peggy du Bruin said: “It means a lot to all of us for being here to support our blind people and also for raising awareness on their challenges and also for people to know that blind people need to be embraced and to be supported in all the challenges that they face.”
The event was also used as a formal launch for October Transport Month, showcasing the road travelled by the municipality in its commitment to inclusivity and accessibility in infrastructure development.