Union calls on Fikile Mbalula to suspend all train services
Commuters are not being given masks, gloves or hand sanitiser on trains to prevent becoming infected with the coronavirus
The United National Transport Union (UNTU) is calling on Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula to suspend all train services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
According to Radio 702, the union, which represents about 6 000 workers at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), wants services at Metrorail suspended until 14 April 2020.
Coronavirus: Commuters without protective gear on trains
Joanne Joseph spoke to UNTU general secretary Steve Harris about their proposal to the minister.
“At this point in time, we have an excess of about 200 on a train and the travels take about an hour-plus due to cable theft,” said Harris.
“These people are squashed in and there is no space between the people and some are hanging on the side of the train,” he added.
Worst of all, he said they have not been provided with face masks, gloves or sanitisers.
Random screening to be done in trains and taxis
Mbalula said on Monday that taxi drivers will be responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are properly sanitised. He also said that screenings for the coronavirus would take place in taxis and trains.
“Random screening will be applied at all taxi ranks and in trains,” he said
“We will engage with all, starting today and consolidate our plans that are already in place for implementation,” he added.
South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) president Phillip Taaibosch said that an urgent response is required to ensure that the millions of people using public transport do not become threatened unnecessarily.
“We are going to seriously look into what can be done to remedy this situation. We are going to try by all means to send a message to all, including taxi drivers,” he said.
“The taxi industry transports more than 16 million people and represents a critical sector which must be at the forefront of robust interventions and awareness to manage the risks,” he added.
Mbalula sanctioned the following measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus:
- An aggressive information drive to create awareness and promote preventative measures. Taxi and bus operators must become ambassadors whose task is to disseminate information;
- The Department of Transport will engage the leadership of the taxi and bus industries to mount an aggressive information drive working closely with the Department of Health on preventative measures in the public transport environment; and
- Random testing measures be implemented in the public transport environment, with particular emphasis on commuter rail.