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Campanile gets thumbs up as disability friendly and versatile

Wheelchair-bound Andrew Whitfield negotiated curbs, traffic and all other hazards a person with disabilities would face to test the accessibility of the iconic Campanile and in the end gave his journey the thumbs up.

Whitfield, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture, took part in the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities’ Wheelchair Wednesday campaign and reckons when new developments are designed, the needs of people with disabilities must be foremost in mind.

"By an large I will give the trip from City Hall to the Campanile approximately 80%. The newly added lift at the Campanile, during the recent renovations, made a huge difference.  Previously people with disabilities were limited to wheeling themselves to the bottom, look up, turn around and go home.

"Now they get to go right to the top of the Campanile.  That is a huge accolade for the municipality and work the Mandela Bay Development Agency did to revitalise this iconic product,” MMC Whitfield said.

The refurbished Campanile, build to signify the arrival of the 1920 British Settlers in the Bay, was launched on 15 August this year with numerous new additions to entice greater interest.

"Last year the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality embarked on a process to create awareness for people with disabilities from a tourism point of view. We worked closely with the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities here in Nelson Mandela Bay to ensure that we highlight challenges that disabled people face in the city especially in regards to our tourism products but also some of the successes.

"Today, we decided on a tour during Tourism Month (September), a year after that particular awareness campaign kicked off, at one of our iconic tourism products that recently reopened its doors.

"The whole purpose was to travel from work, across City Hall, to the Campanile to test the accessibility of this facility.

"I am very pleased to say the Campanile itself is incredibly accessible from my perspective, sitting in a wheelchair today.

"There’s a very nice ramp coming in but it is very clear coming all the way from my office that there are a number of challenges that the municipality can address. Some require very small interventions that can make a big difference in the lives of people with disabilities. We have taken notice of those,” Whitfield said.

At 54m high with 204 steps and 360° breath taking views of the harbour, the Campanile has a new stainless steel structure.

Whitfield said the mix of the city’s history at the Campanile is also very exciting.

"It has the British Settlers history and the new bells have been added to facilitate the playing of the national anthem and other elements of our country’s culture and history are also captured. It makes it a special place and I am happy that disabled people can also enjoy this tourist attraction.

"We will be looking at all our tourist attractions. We started last year. We can do more and I am pleased to be part of this experience,” Whitfield said.

Brian Bezuidenhout, Executive Director of the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities, commended the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality for its willingness to participate in their worthy campaign.

"Almost all the Members of the Mayoral Committee participated and next week it will be Executive Mayor Athol Trollip,” Bezuidenhout said.


Issued on behalf of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality by Media Management Officer Kupido Baron (082 780 2726 / 041 506 1500 / / @kupidobaron).

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