Miles and miles for progress

Congratulations, to all of the Paralympians who participated in Beijing. You made us proud.

We are not so proud of the KZN Institute of Architects. In the last issue of Rolling we told you about our protest “march” when we burnt wheelchair tyres outside their offices.

Alterations to make their offices more accessible ground to a halt a day or two after our demonstration. Apparently the architects failed to consult the correct councils and authorities before going ahead with their changes! And so the process is at a standstill again. Surely architects should know better?

September and October have been two of the busiest months that I can recall. I was also in Beijing during the Paralympics. I never saw a stadium or an event but I did see a well-planned infrastructure which created a level playing field for the Paralympians.

I was asked by ACSA to go to Beijing to look at how their airport functions in the management of persons with disabilities and to look at the transport facilities in and around Beijing and how they complement the airport. Beijing airport is the biggest in the world and when my China and I got there, we were overwhelmed. By the third day at the airport, having witnessed as much as we could of the processes that they use and the facilities that they have, we were almost on first name terms with some people.

Beijing Airport has got it right and they have an excellent integrated public transport system in place. ACSA are committed to the same seamless facilities for 2010. You will definitely see an improvement at our airports.

Straight after the trip to Beijing, and suffering with jet-lag, I joined the Rolling Inspiration babes on the annual QUADS 4 QUADS event; riding my quad bike off-road from Joburg to Durban. An awesome event for an awesome cause. As QASA’s premier event, we hope more people with disabilities will consider this challenge.

Now with quad-lag, it was back to the boardroom, with Gautrain Authority. This was the first serious engagement of the disability sector with the Gautrain Project. I can assure you that they took this engagement seriously, with even the CEO attending.

The result? Gautrain Authority is committed to having universal design principles instilled in the design and functioning of the system. It was refreshing to witness the CEO put his commitment behind the project, ensuring accessibility for all. So much so, that a specialist consultant will be appointed to ensure accessibility including safety, the sensitisation of
staff, the ticketing process, access to information, employment opportunities and that all feeder transport systems to the Gautrain will be accessible.

Now it is a case of getting this appointment done and monitoring the progress, not forgetting to report back to the disability sector through the Disability Alliance.

The visits to the 12 Cities who are planning Bus Rapid Transit programs, are continuing and the first accessible Bus Station in Johannesburg is about to be opened for inspection. I am optimistic about these miles and miles of progress that seem to be made.

Who is next?

It’s got to be the TAXI INDUSTRY…

Columnist Photos