BusinessDay
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Coronavirus: 8 million Lagos commuters at risk over-compliance by transport unions, bus drivers

An estimated eight million daily commuters with commercial buses in Lagos metropolis are at high risk of contacting the raging coronavirus pandemic as many commercial bus operators have completely flouted the Lagos state government directives to transport unions in the state on safety measures to avoid further spread of the disease.

As part of the preventive measures to further  curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic as outlined by the state government, the ministry of transportation (MoT) last week held a sensitization meeting with executives of major stakeholders in the transport business including the National Union of Road Transport Workers ( NURTW), and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).

The meeting which was held at the state secretariat Alausa Ikeja was aimed at educating the stakeholders in the public transportation on the need to join hands with the government in public awareness campaign against the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

At the meeting, Olanrewaju Elegushi, commissioner for home affairs, urged them to fully engage their members on preventive measures already in place to forestall further spread of the Coronavirus.

Elegushi told union leaders to encourage their members on regular handwashing with soaps, application of hand sanitizers and most importantly reduction in the numbers of passengers in their buses in their daily transport routine.

BusinessDay transport reporter who used a commercial bus to work  last Monday can authoritatively report that passengers were still cramped inside the commercial buses, even as hand washing and application of sanitisers sounds strange to the operators.

Only last Monday, the Lagos state government ordered all bus drivers and conductors to wear masks and gloves while driving, as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The ministry of transportation said this in a statement in which it outlined various preventive guidelines for all public transport operators.Beyond wearing gloves and masks, drivers have been asked to sanitize their parks and garages.

Commercial bus operators have also been asked to make alcohol-based sanitizers available for themselves and passengers, as well as thermometers to check the temperature of each passenger before boarding.

The government has also stated that all commercial buses including the yellow buses a.k.a (Danfo) should avoid loading passengers to full capacity but should keep it at 60 percent capacity, while also ensuring that there is enough space of at least 2m or 5ft between passengers.

State government also announced that there should be no standing in all BRT and LBSL bus operations and all air conditioning system in public transport is put off. All buses should be at 60 percent capacity and not 100 percent (i.e danfo and other commercial buses.

In a statement signed by Frederic Oladein commissioner for transportation. “Passengers are also expected to report any operator/company that does not comply with these guidelines to the monitoring officer at sight or write to the ministry, stating the vehicle registration number, park and time”.

However, investigations show that all the Lagos state directives aimed at ensuring public safety among commuters only exists on paper as these commercial bus operators are only concerned with bus fares paid to them by commuters.

MIKE OCHONMA
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