Moving South Africa forward
Nissan first to bring wheelchair-friendly taxis to South Africa.
According to the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), about 15 million commuters are transported daily via taxis. Approximately 7.5% of the country’s population are regarded as having a disability and many of them are unable to make use of public transport due to the lack of transport services available to them.
Nissan has introduced the first wheelchair-friendly vehicles to the South African taxi industry in order to cater for those in need of safe, reliable transportation for people living with disabilities.
They’ve transformed the popular NV350 Impendulo into a spacious carrier suitable for disabled passengers. The vehicle includes a hydraulic life, rear-facing seating and aluminium flooring to help keep wheelchairs in position.
It was only released in August and interest and enquires from several sectors has gained a substantial amount of traction, particularly in the Eastern Cape where the vehicle has already been deployed within several health departments.
“There is a definite need for more public transport facilities that cater for people living with physical disabilities,” says Wonga Mesatywa, Director Corporate and General Affairs at Nissan Group of Africa.
South Africa’s public transport
With the current state of South Africa’s public transport, many are unable to make use of taxi services as most taxis don’t have space to fit a person with a wheelchair, making taxi drivers reluctant to pick up disabled people.
“Public transport facilities just cannot accommodate people in wheelchairs,” says Olivea Louw, General Manager of Nazareth House, a home that offers refuge for orphaned and abandoned children, terminally ill adults as well as the elderly.
“We had to invest considerable resources into buying two wheelchair-equipped vehicles because we could now rely on public transport facilities like buses or taxis,” she adds.
The Transport Strategy and Action Plan of 2007 aims to improve public transport for those with disabilities, minibus taxis and buses remain a problem as far as being able to cater for disabled passengers goes.
The Nissan NV350 is able to make maximum use of available space within the vehicle while one of the most useful modifications to the vehicle is the hydraulic lift which allows for those in wheelchairs to easily enter and exit the vehicle.
“The fact that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) mass ratings on the Impendulo are class leading, makes it an ideal platform for this type of conversion because it minimises the chances of overloading. This is a key differentiating factor for the Imendulo compared to similar vehicles on the market,” says Nissan.
Approved and available
Regulatory standards and specifications have been met in the converted Impendulo, adding to safety an technical requirements.
Nissan adds that in addition to safe transport for the physically disabled, the conversion is also ideal for other entities such as hotel fleets, inter-hospital transportation and frail care.
‘The conversion was only released last month but this has already been well received and we have received multiple enquiries about the modifications made to the vehicle,” says Mesatywa.
Source: Nissan South Africa