Guy Davies from Disability Solutions, MMC for Roads and Transport Sheila-Lynn Senkubuge, Joburg MMC for Transport Nonhlanhla Helen Makhub, Mayor Solly Msimanga and City Deputy Director of Disability Diractorate Zacharia Hopone lead the showcase. Picture: James Mahlokwane

Mayor Solly Msimanga and members of the mayoral committee showcased the A Re Yeng bus service's universal access today.

Msimanga, MMC for Roads and Transport, Sheila-Lynn Senkubuge, Johannesburg MMC for Transport, Nonhlanhla Helen Makhuba, and Blue Bulls rugby team players were put in the shoes of persons with disabilities when they rode wheelchairs and wore eye glasses that simulated the sight of people with visual impairment.

Staff from Disability Solutions, a consultancy company that partnered with the city, wanted to demonstrate how their involvement ensured that the city's transport system adequately catered for people with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women, people travelling with children and luggage, and those who spoke foreign languages.

Disability Solutions said when designing bus rapid transport systems, access for all was taken seriously and each component of the travel chain was considered before the undertaking of the project.

The company highlighted that accomplishing a transport system that met international standards meant compromises had to be made by all parties, including the engineers, for the greater good of accomplishing a user-friendly travel chain.

Msimanga said: "It's no mistake that today we are showcasing this initiative. Slowly but surely we put all the components together and move forward to become the world class city we wish to be."

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga leads others in his wheelchair. Video: James Mahlokwane

He said the city could not grow its economy properly if its transport system did not work for everybody.

He said people with disabilities were not looking for handouts but needed to be enabled just like everyone else so they could also make a living, and that's what universal access did for them.

"People with a disability have proven a lot of times that they can do so many amazing things. We are saying, as a city, we are going to enable you,"

Guy Davies of Disability Solutions made a presentation to the audience, explaining why universal access facilities included tactile or textured paving to guide people with visual impairment, ramps and flap gates at the stations for people using wheelchairs and prams, security cameras at the stations and on buses, as well as boarding ramps on to the buses for level access for all users. 

MMC Senkubuge said the showcase was a clear indication that the city was walking hand in hand with international standards. 

"I want to thank everyone who worked together to make this possible because without working together and the support of mayor Msimanga, all this wouldn't be possible,"  

Tshwane metro police spokesperson Saac Mahamba said the metro police supported the A Re Yeng bus services and had a role to enforce the law and ensure people did not use bays reserved for people with disabilities. 

Gerhard Steenekamp of the Blue Bulls said the players were there to show their support to the city and people with disabilities, and to also endorse universal access.