The Lagos State Government has introduced new guidelines to prevent a further community spread of the COVID-19 virus, following the gradual ease of the lockdown by the Federal Government from Monday, 4th May, in Lagos, Ogun and FCT.

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The Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, while briefing the media on Thursday at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, stated that the new guidelines are proactive measures put in place by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to curb the possible spread of the deadly virus among the commuting public through transportation activities when gradual ease of the lockdown commences.

Oladeinde explained that effective from Monday, 4th of May, all Commercial and Commuter Operations within Lagos shall be between the hours of 6 AM and 7 PM daily, asserting that it is mandatory for all commuters to wear nose covers, wash their hands with soap under running water and, thereafter, use alcohol-based sanitizer before and after each trip.

The Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos State- Dr. Frederic Oladeinde
The Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos State- Dr. Frederic Oladeinde

Announcing the immediate suspension of all inter-State operations and movements, the Commissioner mentioned that the decision was taken to effectively manage and control movement within the metropolis while measuring the level of success achieved with various strategies adopted by the State Government to control further spread of COVID-19.

He affirmed that the use of motorcycles, popularly called Okada, for commercial activities would not support the physical distancing rule as directed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), pointing out, therefore, that Okada operations are disallowed in any part of Lagos State at this period.

Oladeinde disclosed that all transport operators and companies must compulsorily and regularly disinfect their vehicles, parks and garages while they are expected to collaborate with the State Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources on the standard of disinfectants approved by the State Government for use.

The Commissioner warned operators of various mechanic villages to prevent security breaches in their environment, ensure that all abandoned vehicles within their premises are evacuated within the next one week and keep their surroundings clean, saying that the State Government, through its Committee on the abandoned vehicles, will enter any premises that fail to comply and tow the vehicles away.

He also warned all commercial passenger vehicles not to exceed 60% of their capacity at this crucial time, while physical distancing rule must be obeyed both at the parks and in the buses, maintaining that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Lagos Bus Services Ltd (LBSL) must not convey more than 21 passengers, must not permit standing in their buses and should keep the air-conditioning systems switched off always.

“In the same vein, yellow buses, popularly called ‘Danfo’, must not carry more than eight passengers (two on a row), tricycles are to carry just two passengers at the back, while private car owners must also observe the physical distancing,” Oladeinde stated.

Speaking on the activities of transporters involved in the disposal of medical wastes used at Covid-19 isolation Centres, the Commissioner insisted that waste handlers must always wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), dispose non-reusable ones and wash reusable ones immediately after each use.

Expressing displeasure at food transporters who convey a large number of people in their trucks, Dr. Oladeinde warned truck owners, drivers and individuals transporting food, raw materials and other agricultural products into the State to limit their occupants to seven while the driver and all other passengers must wear nose covers.

Outlining modalities for water transport operations, he explained that no water transport operators would be allowed to operate beyond 6 p.m after the lockdown is relaxed, insisting that ferry passengers must wear life jackets, in addition to observing all rules prescribed by the NCDC and Ministry of Health for prevention of contracting the disease.

In his remarks, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Toyin Fayinka stated that enforcement of the new transportation guidelines will commence on Monday 4th of May, 2020, urging motorists to obey the guidelines to avoid encounters with the Special Task Force comprising the Police, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), as well as Abandoned Vehicles and Parks Monitoring Committees.

Responding, the State Chairman, Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association, Asiwaju Jacob Omonide Fayemi, commended the State Government for sensitising the Unions about the new transportation guidelines and assured that members will ensure compliance.

Fayemi also expressed the Union’s gratitude to the State Government for the Covid-19 Intervention packages extended to its members.

Some of the Transport Unions present at the briefing include National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Yellow Taxi/Eko Cab Association, among others.