This Transport Month Engen celebrates as more disabled persons obtain driver’s licences 

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Engen’s partnership with the Disability Economic Empowerment Trust (DEET) that assists persons with disabilities learn the skills needed to pass their learners and driver’s licenses continues to go from strength to strength. 

Launched in the Eastern Cape in 2021, the training has since rolled out in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Free State with plans afoot to roll out in Western Cape in the months ahead. 

To date, 66 aspiring driver’s have passed their learners licences and are currently receiving driving lessons, while a further 44 candidates have successfully obtained their full driver’s licences. 

One such driver is Lulama Ntandazo Sabani from Reeston in East London who was born with a birth defect that resulted in his leg being amputated. 

“I am so happy to pass my driver’s licence. It will open so many doors for me,” comments Lulama, who admits that whilst growing up, he thought he would never be able drive. “I always thought a person with one leg like me can never drive a car, which is why I am so grateful to Engen and DEET for giving me an opportunity to prove myself that I can do it.” 

Another East London resident, Zamani Xebe from Duncan Village was left paralysed as a toddler after experiencing severe pains and numbness in his right leg, later diagnosed as polio. 

“Obtaining my driver’s licence means I will now be able to look for job opportunities,” says Zamani. “It has boosted my self-confidence as people in my community tend to think that a disabled person can never drive…and here I am with my driver’s licence!” 

Engen and the DEET have worked together since 2019 on initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of life of persons with disabilities through the equalization of opportunities, poverty reduction, and social inclusion. 

Engen’s General Manager: Corporate Strategy & Communications, Khalid Latiff extended hearty congratulations to Lulama and Zamani and all the other driver’s who have successfully passed their driving licence tests.   

He says the programme’s success can be attributed to the care and guidance provided by the DEET, which ensures that people with disabilities are taken through the full process. 

“The programme covers learner’s license preparation and coaching, booking of learners and driver’s licenses, a minimum of 20 hours driving practice with a qualified instructor as well as covering all fees and insurance costs,” explains Latiff. 

“The aim is to upskill 20 beneficiaries per province by helping remove barriers to participation and ultimately putting 100 new skilled drivers on the road.” 

Expressing his gratitude to Engen for their continued support, DEET CEO Thabiso Phetuka says a driver’s license opens new career prospects for unemployed and retired people who still want to work. 

“Our partnership with Engen provides hope to job seekers with disabilities and those who aspire to start their own businesses, who might previously have been unsuccessful in securing a position, as a result of not having a driver’s license,” says Phetuka. 

Engen’s commitment to the DEET aligns with South Africa’s ratification of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed in 2007, as well as the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disability that was approved by Cabinet in 2015 as part of domesticating the convention.  

“Engen’s drive to support persons with disabilities is not only about upholding the Constitutional principles of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, but also to put tangible measures into place to support developmental interventions, so that people living with disabilities can become inclusive, contributing members of society,” adds Latiff. 

Disability inclusion is therefore one of Engen’s key social investment focus areas, giving the company the opportunity to contribute towards inclusive disability rights in South Africa.  

“As a caring and inclusive company, this aligns with Engen’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which endeavour to ensure a better and more sustainable future for all,” continues Latiff. 

The quest for sustainability is an essential part of Engen’s agenda and aligned with its statement of purpose, which is to become ‘a progressive energy and solutions partner, enriching lives for a sustainable future’.  

Engen’s commitment to sustainable development is enhanced by its adoption of nine UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, which seeks to create sustainable work opportunities for fenceline community members through decent training and development. 

Engen, Latiff adds, is therefore humbled to play a small part in empowering new motorists and opening new opportunities for them. 

“As a company, we are inspired by and support government’s efforts to create a better life for all, and sincerely hope that having driving skills will lead to a self-sufficient, and economically independent future for the people who complete the programme.”