The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) RS2, Command, Lagos on Thursday said that officers and men of the corps would be hard on erring drivers disregarding COVID-19 public transport guidelines.
Mr Imoh Etuk, the new Zonal Commanding Officer in charge of Ogun and Lagos states, gave the warning during a stakeholders meeting on COVID-19 protocol compliance in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event had in attendance members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other organised transport stakeholders.
In his opening address during the interactive session organised by Lagos Sector Command, Etuk said that the guidelines on public transport operations in the country were clear and binding on all.
He said that no transport operator should disregard them.
Etuk said: “Our men are sufficiently trained, they are not trained to be wicked; they have training to be fair and firm.
“Our men will enlighten, counsel and enforce the protocols. We have the marching order.
“What we are interested in is your cooperation on this. Our lives are at stake, we should protect ourselves and our passengers.
“Ensure usage of face masks, hand washing facilities at different points, and sanitizers. Do your best to protect yourselves and the commuters your are carrying.
“Follow all the COVID-19 protocols so that the nation will not be overwhelmed. This is a work for humanity, if we don’t do it well, we are going to have more casualties especially at it concerns public transport.”
In his keynote address, Mr Olusegun Ogungbemide, the Lagos State Sector Commander of FRSC, said that the world, including Nigeria, was fighting a deadly pandemic that had claimed many lives.
Ogungbemide said that if the country could lose high profile people, it was an indication that COVID-19 was not child’s play.
The sector commander said that the cooperation of all stakeholders, especially in transport sector, was required to forestall its spread.
He said: “If we become careless, this pandemic will consume all of us. If you refuse to cooperate with us, we are all at risk. All transport operators should sanitize their parks/terminals regularly.
” We have done our research and found out that many parks don’t have alcohol-based sanitizer. There must be sanitizer, water and soap in all parks. It is sad to see a park with more than 500 people having only one point for water and soap.
“Some parks are doing well, I cannot deny that, but all parks must put notices at conspicuous places on the guidelines for all to see and observe. Do not belittle this serious situation, you must load your vehicle at 50 per cent capacity.
“When you underrate the impact of COVID-19 as transport operators, it will consume all of us, because it travels through mobility. We need your cooperation to stop this pandemic. The nation is getting overwhelmed.”
According to him, parks should have such notices as ” No Use of Face Masks, No boarding”, “Here, we don’t carry overload”, ” In this park, we are safety compliant”, Physical Distancing must the observed” among others.
The FRSC boss urged transport operators to desist from all actions that could throw the nation into another round of lockdown.
He said they must take responsibility and turn back any commuter not willing to cooperate.
Advising them to adhere to spacing arrangement for all categories of passenger vehicles, Ogungbemide said that there was a need for regular fumigation of vehicles at the end of each trip.
According to him, enforcement of COVID-19 transport guidelines will continue alongside the enlightenment and sensitisation of motorists which the command had started across parks in the state.
“Our men are working seriously. The onus is on us to ensure safety of innocent commuters. We also request that passengers should report all operators not applying COVID-19 protocols.
“COVID-19 spread should not be caused by you. FRSC has developed a political will to enforce law and we are not going to be partial.
“Please, have an arrangement in place across all parks to protect your passengers and be law-abiding,” he said.
Responding, Mr Tajudeen Olutade, the representative of NURTW in Ojota Main Garage, appreciated the corps’ efforts, saying the union had been and would continue to follow the instructions because of safety.
Mr Elijah Ayodele of NURTW, Ojodu Park, called for more sensitisation, orientation and dissemination of information on passengers manifest for both the drivers and passengers.