Bus operators who perform long-distance journeys have decided to reduce the number of passengers they convey per trip. This is ahead of the reopening of the nation’s economy currently locked down to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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The passenger reduction was included in the guidelines prepared by bus operators under the union of the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association and presented to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

The guidelines are contained in a letter signed by the association’s President, Isaac Uhunmwagho of Efex Executive/Efosa Express; and Frank Nneji of the ABC Transport Plc, with the title, ‘Proposed COVID-19 protocols/procedures for interstate passenger operators.’

The association said that due to the physical distancing protocol, the number of passengers per row in the buses would be reduced to two, emphasising that 15-seater buses would henceforth convey only nine passengers, including the driver, while a 59-seater bus would convey only 28 passengers.

It added that no vehicles would be allowed to operate with air-conditioners. The decision is to allow the free flow of fresh air.

It read, “PTONA shall have a task force to work jointly with designated representatives of the government, like the Federal Road Safety Corps, to ensure compliance with all the protocols listed above.

“All passenger operations shall be carried out from designated organised/standard bus terminals, not from roadsides.

“Each transport terminal shall designate a staff as ‘health officer’ who shall be acquainted with all COVID-19 prevention/management protocols. The officer will liaise with appropriate NCDC official in the state of operation.”

It added, “There shall be established in each location of the company, a washing station to comprise the following: water storage bucket, receiving bowl and liquid soap. This will be for the use of each customer/passenger entering our business premises.

“There shall also be provided hand sanitiser in a standard dispenser. Both washing station and sanitiser have to be placed in strategic locations for the use of all customers.

“An infrared thermometer must be provided by the company at each departure terminal.”

It said anybody with a body temperature above 37.5oC would be reported for appropriate action, while the customer involved would be adequately informed about the decision.