Disabled residents at odds with City’s ride

THE QuadPara Association of KwaZulu-Natal has come out against the eThekwini Municipality’s Dial-A-Ride operator, alleging that it does not provide an adequate service to people in wheelchairs.

The statement comes in the wake of the City announcing that they annually commit R30 million to the operation and maintenance of the 12 fleet Dial-A-Ride vehicles, which they say promotes the dignity of disabled people through transport that is tailored to suite their special needs.

Speaking to the Northglen News, Chief Executive Officer for the quadriplegic association, Cedric Hedgcock, disagreed.

He said that Dial-A-Ride showed impatience when dealing with people in wheelchairs. He said that bus drivers “preferred not to take the time needed to get people in wheelchairs into and out of the vehicles.”
Dial-A-Ride was lauded on the municipal website in an article posted January 30. In it Mlungisi Wosiyana, eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA) Deputy Head for Public Transport said, “We have also invested in the training of our employees to drive these vehicles and on how to assist the passengers when they are getting on and off the vehicle.”

However, the QuadPara Association of KZN said people had been quoted up to R1000 for trips in and around the city. The municipality had not provided a response to the allegations by the time this article went to press but a spokesperson for the municipality stated in an e-amil “that the relevant Department would investigate with the operator and provide a suitable response.”

The article on the municipality’s website read, “This door-to-door public transport service has been prioritised for people needing to get to places of employment at peak times and for those needing to get to clinics, social, religious and other gatherings during off-peak-times.”

Launched in 2011, Dial-A-Ride is a part of the City’s Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (called GO!Durban). Operated by an independent contractor, it is aimed at ensuring the disabled “make a meaningful contribution to the mainstream economy.” The service is a part of the municipality’s vision to be Africa’s most caring and liveable City.

The 2012 Census figures revealed that the eThekwini Metro has about 10 000 people with disabilities living in it.

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