GEORGE NEWS - Parking in the George CBD has been in the news for various reasons lately, including the fact that able-bodied persons use disabled parking. This is of great concern to disabled people who then have to park far away from the entrance of a shop or business.
Recently two car guards who approached a man whose limbs were working perfectly, were told to buzz off. They were told to "shut it" because they are not the police and have no say. This happened in front of a disabled person who needed to use the parking bay in question.
"People think because these parking bays are open they can just use them as drop and go zones. They also do not want to be corrected or told they are in the wrong," said a member of the public who witnessed the incident.
The QuadPara Association of South Africa (Qasa) chief executive, Ari Seirlis, wrote on the website www.disabilityinfosa.co.za, "The specialised parking bays are designated for wheelchair users. The bays are 3 500mm in width, which is designed to accommodate a wheelchair on either side of a vehicle for the purposes of exiting or entry. Bays are positioned in specific areas not only for location but to accommodate the specified width requirements."
He said Qasa does not accept excuses from people with other health challenges using their bays. "The bays are not there to save people from walking distances. They are there for wheelchair users."
A whistle-blowing facility has been set up to allow the general public to inform Qasa when these facilities, which are so important for the rights and freedom of wheelchair users, are abused.
"If you see someone misusing a wheelchair-demarcated parking bay, please take a photo which shows the vehicle registration and wheelchair parking sign clearly. WhatsApp it to 073 853 9675, including the location, date and time and Qasa will kindly sensitise the offender."
Donovan Saptoe, George Municipality traffic chief, said any type of vehicle that parks in a disabled parking bay without displaying the correct disabled tag or sticker is parking illegally and such an offender can be fined R500.
"Persons witnessing such illegal parking must please phone the George Traffic Department immediately on 044 878 2400 and ask for response to the scene."
Saptoe said people should rather avoid confrontation that may be endanger them or others. He recommends that an offender is not approached, but to rather wait for traffic officers to arrive.
He said the traffic department can also investigate complaints by the public that are submitted in writing in an affidavit (a sworn document stamped and signed by a commissioner of oaths), and the complainant may have to testify in the municipal court should the alleged offender choose to not pay the fine.
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