MOST of the interstate transport companies and their passengers in Anambra State are adhering completely to the government directives towards the prevention of the spread of the deadly COVID- 19 pandemic.
Our reporter who monitored the state of affairs in some parks in Awka, few weeks after the lifting of ban on interstate travels observed that most of the parks and transport companies made provisions for running water, soap and sanitiser for washing of hands, ensure social distancing in the vehicles and wearing of protective facemasks among passengers and drivers.
Among the transport companies visited are GUO, GIGM, Anambra Executive Shuttle, Eastern Mass Transit, Peace Mass Transit, Lybra, TRACAS.
It was also observed that life has fully returned to the parks even as a lot passengers were seen in the parks.
In an interview with the customer service representative at GUO Transport Company, Awka Terminal, Emmanuel Nwogbo, he said that their passengers were fully co-operating in paying the new cost of heir transportations both for Sieana vehicles and buses, noting that people have seen the need to pay higher than usual to enjoy relaxation in a vehicle than being compacted.
According to him, “Presently, everybody is conscious of coronavirus. Anything you tell a reasonable person to do in order to be safe, he will do it. The major problem is the lockdown itself because since the long period we have been at home, both the passengers and our workers are still trying to stand on our feet.”
One of the drivers of the transport company, Michael Odawa said that he travelled from Awka to many locations like Lafia, Sele and Alaba in Lagos State and often consume much time and diesel at various check points from Onitsha to Lagos which demands him to stop within every short interval, adding that it delays the journey and increased the hours from the initial 7hours to 24hours while the late arrival of the vehicles at its destination causes the passengers to be afraid on the road.
The manager of GIGM, Awka Terminal, Chukwuemezie Chibuzo said that the company had been affected as regards the patronage of the passengers since the total lockdown which reduced their capacity in the buses to carry less than the initial number of passengers per bus and increased the cost of transportation, adding that the economy has not been favourable while a lot of people have lost their jobs and are trying to recover from the situation.
At the entrance of the office, it was pasted that nobody is allowed to go in without facemask which he said were in their offices nationwide. He also disclosed that they ensure less population of staff in the office, provide running water and soap for washing of hands and use infrared thermometer to check temperature of the passengers before boarding.
He said, “our passengers seat by the widow side of the vehicles while the middle remains empty to maintain social distancing. They are fully complying with the protocols. In our online booking, our passengers get 20% discount of their payment just to encourage them to come because of the bad economy in the country”.
The manager of the 1st Anambra Comfort Line, Mosley Kingsley said that the turn up of the passengers were higher after the lift of ban of the interstate vehicles than the present number they are having, noting that the major challenge between the company and the passengers is lack of money due to the high cost of transportation and being limited to carry five passengers in a Siena bus.
“If we ask them to pay the new price which is 8500 from Awka to Lagos, they will pay the initial cost and it ends up affecting us. Outside this, every other thing is going well”.
Chukwu Chibuik,e who is the manager of the Anambra Executive Shuttle, Abuja and Lagos Terminal said that they were still not finding it easy to keep their passengers due to their N10,000 increased cost of the transportation instead of N7000 in order to convey less number of passengers per vehicle, noting that it is a loss to the company as well as the drivers on daily bases.
“The Sienna vehicle carries five passengers, two persons per seat. It has not been easy with us but we are managing it to keep the government directives and avoid another total lockdown. You can also see everybody here wearing his or her facemask,” he said.
One of the drivers at the park, Kingsley Ani also said that they were not being disturbed by the policemen or any COVID -19 Task Force as they comply to the government order.
The supervisor of Peace Mass Transit, Awka, Mr Valentine Ugwu said that the park officially opened on 10th, July, 2020, after taking their vehicles to maintenance, noting that there has not been violation of the COVID- 19 protocols by any of their passengers, rather, they give full cooperation to the company.
“Everybody is conscious of the disease and the government directives. The major problem we usually have on the road is bad road. Imagine when a vehicle leaves in the morning to Abuja, it will arrive late in the night”.
He further said that their cost of transportation from Awka to Abuja and Lagos was N6500 while Enugu is N700
At the TRACAS Park; which conveys passengers on Sienna vehicle to Enugu and Ebonyi States, the supervisor of the company, Tochukwu Nnabuife said that the number of passengers had been reduced from eight to five persons, carrying two persons per seat, adding that the cost of transportation equally changed from N1000 to N1500
The manager of the Eastern Mass Transit, Awka, Steven Ajaegbo said that the cost of transport from Awka to Enugu had changed from its initial cost of N500 to N800 with two passengers per seat, noting that despite maintaining the government order, passengers are also doing their best to be safe by wearing facemasks, using sanitisers, washing their hands with soap, while the company uses an infrared thermometer to check their temperature.