By Duncan Mlanjira
Among several precautionary measures against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ministry of Transport & Public Works has suspended all cross-border passenger travel is effective April 1st, 2020
A statement from Minister Ralph Jooma, says this is in line with the declaration of Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by World Health Organization (WHO), and in line with the declaration of a National State of Disaster by President, Prof Peter Mutharika.
All international flights are suspended also effective April 1 except for aircraft carrying health personnel, essential health equipment and emergency relief items and those carrying returning residents or general cargo, which will be handled on a case by case basis.
The precautionary measures for road transport services requires all providers to reduce their seating capacity to 60%; not to allowing any standing passengers the buses should have slide opening windows and that those without should have a functional ventilation system.
All public service vehicles are required to disinfect before commencement of every trip; all passengers must wash hands before entering a bus or minibus and that sanitizer should be provided to all passengers on board.
The bus crew is required to put on protective face masks; that passengers are not allowed to carry animals on any public service vehicles; all goods vehicles are not allowed to carry passengers and all tricycles should carry 1 passenger only.
All passengers in private vehicles should sit next to windows with no passenger sitting in the middle and that traffic law enforcement officers, local council representatives, representatives of Passenger Welfare Association and members of the respective public transport associations will be carrying out joint exercises to inspect compliance.
“Traffic law enforcement officers are not allowed to touch the driver or vehicle documents and any other document required by law except where it is very necessary.
“Meanwhile the Department of Road Traffic and Safety Services is developing measures to be followed by bicycle and motorcycle taxis,” says the Minister’s statement.
For the rail transport service, the Central East Africa Railways (CEAR) has been directed to reduce the carrying capacity of each passenger coach from 90 to 40 for Economy Class and from 54 to 28 for Business Class.
CEAR is also required to carry out the same measures directed for road transport services and that Government inspectors have been deployed to enforce the implementation of these measures.
“CEAR has deployed social monitors at every train station to ensure compliance with sanitation and social distance guidelines.”
Water transport has been asked to reduce their carrying capacity by 50 percent for all passenger vessels and that large vessels should make provision for a cabin to be used for isolation of people showing general symptoms of COVID-19.
Movement of passengers within ships is restricted and social visits to ports and vessels have been suspended forthwith.
The Department of Marine Services launched sensitization programmes at all major ports from Friday March 27 and that ship surveyors have been deployed to enforce the implementation of these measures.
Those with common flu and showing general symptoms of COVID-19 should not be allowed to use any public transport service; citizens are encouraged to only take essential travel and where possible to walk to various destinations wherever practical.
“The Ministry of Transport and Public Works will continue to monitor and review the situation in consultation with the Ministry of Health for the next 30 days,” says the statement.