New guidelines on public transport to curb Covid-19

Friday March 20 2020

An unidentified woman uses a shawl to cover her

An unidentified woman uses a shawl to cover her nose and mouth in efforts to protect herself from catching coronavirus aboard a commuter bus in Dar es Salaam yesterday. The government has rolled out a number of guidelines for public transport operators in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO | ERICKY BONIPHACE 

By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999 lkolumbia@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday announced sweeping measures to control the spread of Covid-19 in public transport including observing the ‘level seats’ principle from today.

Also, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses are supposed to carry passengers according to their licences.

The government’s measures come at a time when the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases has reached six.

Land Transport Regulatory Authority (Latra) director general, Gilliard Ngewe, told The Citizen that those measures were reached at stakeholders’ meetings held on March 15 and March 17.

The meetings were attended by Latra officers, senior traffic police officers, bus owners and the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transport Agency (Dart).

“Therefore, no daladala is allowed to let passengers stand in buses from tomorrow (today).

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“BRT buses will be required to carry passengers according to their operating licences,” he said.

He said a team of ten people has been formed under chief traffic commander Fortunatus Msilimu to ensure government directives are enforced.

Mr Ngewe said the team will observe traffic jams and congestion of commuters at daladala and BRT stations and give feedback.

“The feedback could take us back to the drawing board, or advise the government to impose a ban on unnecessary travel in the city,” he said.

However, he said they were not expecting commuters congestion at daladala and BRT stages due to closure of schools and higher learning institutions that constitute a large percentage of commuters during peak hours.

A statement issued later yesterday by Latra says upcountry buses and those plying rural-based routes should ensure they carry passengers according to the number of bus seats.

“Buses and train coaches should be sprayed with the virus killers at every end of the journey.

“Hand-washing equipment and sanitizers should be installed in every bus and train station,” he said.

He said already five hand washing centres have been installed at the Ubungo Bus Terminal (UBT), an initiative that was confirmed by this paper.

According to him, commuter buses, trains, bodaboda and bajaj operators should provide hand washing sanitizers to passengers.

“We are working with the Medical Stores Department (MSD) to ensure sanitizers are available at bus and train stations shops,” he said, adding that passengers are restricted to be escorted.

The Usafiri Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (Udart) managing director John Nguya said BRT buses will start express routes between Mbezi and the Central Business District.

“These buses will not stop at Kimara. Rather few others will do and proceed to respective destinations. However, passengers will board the buses after washing their hands and stand in queues,” he said.

According to him, long buses were carrying 250 to 300 commuters which is higher than 155 passengers indicated in the licences.

Small BRT buses were carrying up to 160 commuters instead of 90 people specified in the licenses.