It’s not a red carpet, but a blue polyester mat rolled out for the public at Muizenberg Beach on Sunday is the next best thing for people in wheelchairs and parents pushing prams trying to reach the water.
The mat – a win for universal access – was introduced to the public on International Wheelchair Day.
It’s the result of a partnership between the City’s recreation and parks department and Province’s Western Cape on Wellness (WoW!) programme promoting healthy lifestyles.
Manufactured in France, the Mobi-Mat is made from 100% recycled polyester.
Its lightweight roll-out technology creates a pathway for outdoor access for wheelchairs, prams and walking chairs.
The bright blue colour makes the mat easy to identify from a distance and the non-slip surface provides an easy transition from the pathway over the sand to the ocean.
According to the City, the mat, which is about 50m long and cost R390 000, will now undergo a series of tests as part of the pilot project, and will only be available for public use once all legal documentation has been finalised, most likely by the end of the month.
Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said she hoped the Mobi-Mat would make it easier for disabled people to enjoy the beach.
Mayoral committee member for community services and health Dr Zahid Badroodien said the mat would not only help those in wheelchairs but also the elderly and parents with baby strollers.
The project is being piloted at the City’s flagship beach for people with disabilities.
Muizenberg has demarcated parking for the disabled, ramps, hand railings, ablution facilities and an amphibious wheelchair.
“Ultimately, the goal is to have these mats on every beach, although that will take some time to fund and implement,” said Dr Badroodien.