Pursuant to the need to mitigate the spread of corona virus amongst passengers, the Federal Road Safety Corps has arrested a total of 144 offenders for overloading of vehicles in persons, ordered all categories of transporters to ensure full compliance with the provisions of Regulation 108 (1) of the National Road Traffic Regulation 2012 on compulsory passenger manifest; and directed all public transport operators to imbibe necessary precautionary measures in their parks and terminals as failure to adhere strictly to this order will attract the necessary sanctions.
In a statement issued by the Corps Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, he said that the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi who gave the order stated that the Corps observed that despite the palpable spread of the virus, public transport operators continued to board passengers to full capacity without consideration to social distancing, passenger manifest and seat spacing of passengers. This unhealthy behaviour if not put to check on time, has the potentials to fuel the spread of the virus.
He emphatically noted that all passengers travelling; not only during the epidemic regime but at all times, have the statutory obligation to write down their full information in the passenger manifest before commencement of the trip. He noted that putting down details of passengers on a manifest is a mandatory and acceptable practice all over the world, that the document contains basic information including contacts of next of kin of all the passengers travelling in the vehicle for ease of identification and contact in the case of any eventuality.
The emphasis on the need for compulsory adherence to the NRTR 2012 provision is to make sure that details of all passengers conveyed in each vehicle are adequately collected so as to arrest further spread of the virus per chance any of the passengers is tested positive even after the trip. He warned passengers to comply by filling the passenger manifest before their journey commences as any transporter who violates this order will be made to face the wrath of the law when apprehended.
On overloading, the Corps Public Education Officer stated that the figures of the arrests was drawn from 16 states with the highest number of arrests recorded in the Federal Capital Territory where a total of 52 overloaded vehicles were impounded while Lagos State followed suite with a total of 17 arrests.
He gave the list of states where more than 5 arrests were made as Plateau 14, Delta 13, Benue 9, Adamawa 6, and Katsina with a total of 6 arrests. While Nasarawa and Ogun State recorded 5 arrests each, Niger and Kwara recorded 4 each, Osun 3, Rivers and Akwa Ibom had 2 each with Zamfara and Enugu recording the lowest arrest of 1 per state.
Recall that in the earlier caution on overloading of vehicles issued by the Corps, the spokesperson noted that the essence is to maintain social distance amongst passengers in vehicles as a panacea to mitigating the spread of the deadly virus.
To this end, Kazeem said that the Corps Marshal, has ordered all pubic transporters to ensure full compliance with the following key precautionary measures amidst the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. The directives read as follows:
All public transport operators to sanitise their parks/terminals regularly (at least before and after each trip) with emphasis on objects and areas that people frequently come in contact with such as rails, grab handles and seats;
Provide hand washing points with running water, hand wash equipments, detergent and alcohol based sanitiser;
Maintain reasonable social distancing on seating arrangements for waiting passengers in their parks and terminals;
Provide temperature readers and test all passengers before boarding and alcohol based sanitisers in their vehicles for the use of all occupants including drivers and conductors.
Other directives are as follows;
All public transport operators are to clean surfaces and things people mostly come in contact with such as-vehicle door handles, key fob, steering wheel, dashboard, door buttons, seatbelts, gear shifters, touch screen, etc before and after each trip;
Passengers must sanitise themselves before boarding and all drivers and conductors to wear hand gloves and nose masks while on transit.
Oyeyemi also directed that no passenger should be allowed to stand in all mass transit buses as well as no use of air conditioning system in all public transport vehicles.
All public transport operators must strictly observe adequate spacing of passengers as crowding or overloading of vehicles will not be tolerated.
While encouraging all passengers to maintain a clean and healthy habit by washing their hands with soap before and after each trip, the Corps Marshal called on road users to report any public transport operator that fails to comply with any of these guidelines to the Federal Road Safety Corps Command nearest to them, or call the following numbers: 0800CALLFRSC or Toll free number 122 or National Traffic Radio live lines 09067000015, 08052998090.
Clearly stating the name of the Operator, location of park/ terminal, vehicle registration number (as applicable), date and time.
Accordingly, he reassured motorists that the Federal Road Safety Corps believes that Nigeria will definitely overcome this trying period soonest, especially when we come together as a single force to adhere to the basic health and safety rules as postulated by relevant health authorities.