Madurai

How clean are buses and private cabs?

TNSTC workers disinfecting a bus amid concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus in Madurai.

TNSTC workers disinfecting a bus amid concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus in Madurai.   | Photo Credit: S. James

Public transport vehicles, including TNSTC buses, omni buses, autorickshaws, minibuses, private and tourist cabs, have been regularly cleaned and disinfectant sprays are being used to mitigate Covid-19 fear since March 15, according to Collector T.G. Vinay.

He told The Hindu that on an average, close to 80,000 commuters used the city buses and other modes of transports operated by the government and private operators.

Apart from this, mofusil operations to neighbouring districts transported about a lakh people to different destinations such as Karaikudi, Dindigul, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Paramakudi, Tirunelveli and others.

Considering the need to keep the vehicles clean and tidy in the wake of the pandemic, the State government had instructed the officials to take stock and keep them in hygienic way, he said and added that for the number of passenger movement daily (except on March 22, which was declared as janata curfew), all other days, the operations were normal.

Four days ago, a meeting was convened by the Transport Department with the TNSTC officials, private mofusil bus operators and the officials. The Collector urged the officials to sensitise the bus crew to keep themselves clean. Handwashing and social distancing were mandatory and that over-crowding should not be permitted under any circumstances.

Autorickshaw drivers and cab operators were also told to adhere to the guidelines, else they have to face the consequences. Everyone should be socially responsible at this time of crisis. The pandemic can be overcome only if the public understand the gravity of the Covid-19, officials said.

Transport Department officials said that the Regional Transport Offices were equipped with handwash liquid. The RTOs continued to function as they had to register the BS-1V model vehicles before March 31, as per the Central government notification.

Hence, the rush is high, the RTOs from Madurai North, Central and South said. “We are taking adequate precautions in the offices and also educating the drivers and conductors to follow the instructions,” they added.

For the last one week, cleaning and spraying disinfectant materials had become a routine exercise. Right from handlebars, holders, seats in buses are fumigated in the morning and evening. In between, the crew is provided with herbal soaps. There are also handmasks issued for the conservancy workers and staff at the maintenance department.

An RTO said in the MGR bus stand at Maatuthavani alone, the staff have cleaned up and fumigated 1,290 vehicles, including 443 autorickshaws, 33 minibuses, 130 omnibuses and tourist taxis.

“The exercise has been strenuous, but has led to safe travel for the commuters...” the RTO noted.

For the volume of passengers handled since March 15 (except for March 22, which was declared as janata curfew), there has not been any major issues so far, a Health officer from Madurai Corporation said.

A bus crew at Periyar bus stand said that many commuters continued to spit in the open while travelling, despite sensitisation and awareness being given. The law-enforcement officers should tighten and impose fines, they opined.

The TNSTC General Manager S. Rajeswaran in a press release said that all their drivers, conductors and maintenance staff, were sensitised by students of CSI College of Nursing.

“We have adequate stock of soaps, handwash materials and others....” he added. Another official said that they had received funds from the government for procuring materials for handwash in the wake of Covid-19.

The railways, which had suspended its operations and the premises is closed to public entry, had utilised the opportunity to clean the platforms, fumigate open spaces and keep them clean, officials said.

Except for the essential services, which include Aavin, TANGEDCO, media, civic authorities engaged in health and garbage disposal, it is a shutdown for movement of general public. The police have already taken positions across the city’s vantage points to ensure that the curfew is total from 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

The only premises which is functioning round-the-clock for now is the Government Rajaji Hospital and other major private hospitals and PHCs.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:13:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/how-clean-are-buses-and-private-cabs/article31154581.ece

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