Coronavirus pandemic: Sindh permits intercity transport under SOPs

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KARACHI: The Sindh government on Friday announced the resumption of intercity bus operation in the province under Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the safety of passengers

The decision, according to the notification issued by the Sindh Transport and Mass Transit Department, was taken to cater to citizens’ transportation needs. Interprovincial transport, however, remains suspended.

The SOPs include cleaning and disinfecting surfaces of buses, bus terminals, booking points and waiting areas, and also the installation of sanitisation gates on the entrance and exit points of terminals.

Transporters have also been required to ensure a “hygienic environment in buses” and must enforce social distancing during ticketing, boarding, travelling and alighting with a minimum three-foot distance. 

“Wearing masks and hand gloves is mandatory for all the passengers, drivers and conductors aboard,” the notification said.

Transporters have also been asked to keep minimum baggage and ensure availability of masks and hand sanitisers in every bus. The body temperature of every passenger, including the driver and the conductor, must be checked before boarding. Anyone with a cough or fever must not be allowed to board the bus.

“There should be a 50% seating arrangement for passengers with reasonable distance among them,” the notification said. “Ventilation of air by opening windows has to be ensured. The rear door has to be used for boarding, while the front is to be used for alighting.”

It added, “Sneezing and coughing have to be into elbow or tissue papers. Location of parking bays of buses has to be marked by the intercity transporters. Crowd management has also to be ensured through the deployment of additional or necessary staff and also by marking positions at bus terminals. Availability of soaps, sanitisers in the public area, toilets and terminals has also to be ensured.”

Sindh green-lights resumption of services

On June 2, the Sindh government gave the green signal to resumepublic and online transport services across the province.

The decision had been announced by Sindh Transport Minister Awais following successful negotiations between transporters and the Sindh government.

A monitoring and inspection team had been constituted to ensure that social distancing guidelines and SOPs are followed by transporters to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“Transport will be allowed to resume within the city,” said Awais, adding that all transporters will have to follow the government’s SOPs.

“If SOPs are not followed then public transport will once again be banned,” said the minister. He added that extra passengers will not be added to buses and other modes of transport.

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