Monday, February 14, 2011

In South Africa, wheelchair users celebrate opening of beach ramp

From The Witness in S. Africa:

A parade of wheelchair users celebrated the opening of a 50-metre ramp at Pennington’s Mpithi Beach Kiosk last week.

The accomplishment of planning, designing and building the ramp within only 12 days during December last year and at a greatly-reduced price, was likened by a grateful community member to the co-operation and passion inspired by the Fifa football World Cup.

“The ramp enables people in wheelchairs and mothers with prams and people with walking impediments to easily reach the observation platform and enjoy the magnificent vista of Pennington beach,” said Pennington Conservancy committee member Evelyn Heunis. “We wanted it ready for the Christmas holidays, which seemed an impossible task at the time, but in a masterpiece of efficiency and common purpose, it was done”.

“The concept was originally inspired by Rufus Veeriah, himself a wheelchair occupant. The Umdoni Municipality then came to the party, giving its immediate approval, backed up by Shiraj Paruk’s involvement. Land surveyor John Abbott gave generously of his time and expertise and Juan of Pro Ex, the main contractor, gave us a cut-throat price, but full value and service. The attractive wooden railing was also done at a very reduced price by Manny.

“The conservancy’s Allan Cooper took on the bulk of the daily management while I was away,” said Heunis.

She added that through its many patrons and dedicated staff, the conservancy’s Mpithi Kiosk was able to put up the money from its takings. “All in all, it has been a classic example of how all parties — public and private — can combine to provide unbelievable service when we put our backs into it the beneficiaries have been the environment and the community — the two most critical components in the town.”

A final section of ramp from the platform to the beach itself is scheduled for completion by Umdoni Municipality when funds permit.