Eastern Cape commuters with disabilities in the Amathole region will finally have access to a user-friendly public transport.
The provincial Transport Department teamed up with Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) to conduct a workshop in East London to help educate taxi and bus operators on the appropriate way to transport and communicate with people with disabilities.
"The department received a number of complaints from people with disabilities about public transport operators being unable to deal with them.
"The department therefore created a training programme to eradicate all forms of marginalisation and discrimination against people with disabilities in the public transport sector," said department special programmes unit manager, Mkhuseli Vuso.
The workshop was attended by nearly 60 public transport operators from different taxi branches in the Amathole region. They were taught the basics of sign language and how to properly transport people in wheelchairs.
"I use public transport daily when I travel from home to work, and taxi operators don't take notice of the fact that I can't speak. The communication barrier is my biggest daily challenge as a deaf person, because taxi operators don't understand sign language," said Mdantsane resident Khumbulani Mshiywa, speaking through his interpreter Bulelwa Madikane.
He said if he wants to get off at a certain stop, he has to ask the person sitting next to him to tell the driver to stop.
"Taxi operators must learn how to communicate with deaf people and leave their attitudes aside," said Mshiywa.
Vuso said the department will be conducting similar workshops at taxi and bus branches around the region for those who couldn't attend the East London workshop.
"It is time for the public transport industry to stop discriminating against people living with disabilities. We need to ensure that people with disabilities have full access to the public transport service," said Vuso.