Ensure safety as public transport returns

Friday June 5 2020

Passengers stranded at the New Taxi Park i

Passengers stranded at the New Taxi Park in Kampala. Many had flocked the taxi park to travel upcountry after government lifted the ban on public transport. PHOTO BY KELVIN ATUHAIRE 

By EDITOR

There have been commendable efforts by government, civil society, private companies as well as individuals in an endeavour to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Many people are keen to make sure that they stay safe. Therefore, they are prepared to religiously follow expert safety guidelines announced by the President and the Ministry of Health.

Consequently today, nearly every citizen knows or at least has heard about the need and the importance of washing their hands with clean water and soap, using sanitiser, observe a social distance, and wearing of facemasks, to avoid contracting or spreading coronavirus to others.

Nevertheless, there is still need for clarity to be given in as far as public transport is concerned. For instance, our online platform yesterday carried a video clip showing taxi operators and traffic officers arguing over the number of people a taxi is supposed to carry.

Whereas the operators insisted that the taxi was supposed to carry nine people, including the driver and the conductor, the traffic officers maintained that they should transport only seven passengers.

There was another case of traffic officers blocking a Pioneer Easy bus from loading passengers at Ntinda township, reportedly due to lack of a route chart issued by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

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In all this, the traffic officers, passengers and other people around them get exposed and contract the virus. Besides, there should be special consideration either by tax operators or traffic officers as regards vulnerable passengers, some of whom are expectant women and very weak patients.

In situations where such cases arise, it is important that special consideration is given to such categories of passengers given the dire situation they may be in.

Besides, in a situation like now when there is scarcity of public transport, taxi drivers or traffic officers should give priority to vulnerable passengers such as the sick and children, as long as they wear facemasks and sanitise as they enter the taxi.

Although it is also laudable that almost everybody now is well aware of the protective measures they have to take in order to stay safe against the contagious respiratory disease, the question of public transport, if not handled well, may turn out to hotspot for the spread of coronavirus like the truck drivers have been.

This is why all transport stakeholders should emphasise safety above everything else. This demands that traffic officers and transport understand well the import of the safety measures put in place.

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