Chair of Chairpersons of Section 79 committees, Councillor (Cllr) Llyod Phillips hosted People with Disabilities in an engagement to discuss issues affecting their daily lives in the City of Joburg. The event was held under the theme “Freedom without us is not free”. This was held at Brixton Multipurpose Centre in Brixton on Friday, 09 June 2023. Cllr Phillips was accompanied by two Chairs of Section 79 portfolio committee and a Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development, Cllr Lubabalo Magwentshu. The plight of people with disabilities (PWDs) include a lack access to facilities, lack of valuable information, transport services and healthcare.
However, Cllr Phillips is encouraged the City’s Rea Vaya bus service provides special lifts to aid wheelchair users. They have made it possible and easy for PWDs to travel on buses.
Cllr Phillips promised that the City will ensure it creates a conducive environment for PWDs to thrive.
“The majority of PWDs in the city have been excluded from accessing opportunities, including equal participation in sports and employment. This compromises their ability to realise their full potential.
“It should be easy for persons depending on wheelchairs for movement to navigate their way easily around the city, however, the reality on our streets do not have the proper walkways and are not designed with wheelchair-use in mind.
We urge the executive to make this a norm in all other city facilities rather than an exception.
“In our aspirations to build a liveable and inclusive city, as guided by the provision of the city’s Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) 2040, we would not have completed our work if policies to advance the interest of PWDs are not implemented,” said Cllr Phillips.
The office of the Chair of Chairs is an oversight office and it has discovered that the city has many progressive policies that have been approved, shelved and not implemented.
“We commit ourselves to hold the executive account to ensure that these basic majors are implemented as a matter of urgency,” said Cllr Phillips.
Cllr Magwentshu spoke about the rights and barriers causing the lack of development for PWDs.
“The Government of Local Unity must accept and take the responsibility that it has failed the PWD community. We are the ones to ensure that whatever was done before is corrected now and as a matter of urgency. The PWD community should not be left behind. We are here to serve everyone in the City of Joburg,” concluded Cllr Magwentshu.
Magic Nkwashu, the Chairperson of the Disability Forum, urged the City to take PWDs seriously and not as an afterthought as has been happening over the years.
“City officials must ensure budget allocated to us is used for the purpose, effectively so,” Nkwashu said.