By Romell Eubank
The transport industry is vital to Jamaica. It helps us move from one point to another much faster than walking on foot. Considering the climate and types of weather we encounter, transport is almost a necessity. The fact that many Jamaicans don’t own a personal vehicle means public transport is the most frequent mean of transportation. Many taxis see at least twenty passengers per day based on observations. This means if one person infected with the coronavirus makes contact with the interior surfaces of the vehicle or even vehicle occupants, it could result in many persons getting infected if the proper precautions are not taken.
We have a culture where taxi operators insist on carrying passengers in excess of the allowed limit. We can ascertain that social distancing cannot be maintained in these circumstances since persons are closely packed and using a common phrase, ‘packed like sardine’. This in itself provides an opportunity for the spreading of the coronavirus amongst passengers. Taxi operators therefore have a great responsibility to protect their passengers by implementing measures and rules for occupying their vehicles.
One measure could be implementing a mandatory mask wearing policy that ensures passengers wear masks and wear them properly inside the vehicle. Masks are very necessary to help prevent the spreading of the coronavirus even though they can prove uncomfortable to wear. Many masks reduce the risk of transmission by at least eighty percent. Therefore, if each car occupant wears a mask, the risk of the coronavirus being transmitted is greatly reduced. While masks are worn, the driver must also ensure it is worn properly. Taxi operators should reject individuals who wish not to wear a mask. Many will complain of losses because we have disobedient citizens who will refuse to wear a mask, but taxi operators must take into consideration the lives of their own loved ones – both the elderly and the young.
Another measure would be providing sanitation by wiping the vehicle with alcohol, lysol of other chemical agents that are effective against the coronavirus, after each trip. They could also provide hand sanitizers or alcohol to spray on the passengers’ hands. I personally witnessed, while travelling, an instance where an individual coughed in her palms multiple times and then place her hands on the car handle used many individuals. This is why sanitation of the vehicle after each trip would prove important.
Small measures such as reducing the number of passengers could also be implemented. These measures might cost the driver money and may also result in fare hikes but that’s a small price to pay for protection from a virus that might prove deadly to us and our loved ones. Serious measures are important not just in business places and other organisations but also in taxis – a great hot spot of human interaction. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. Taxi operators, take control, keep your passengers and yourselves safe. We can beat the coronavirus together.
We want to hear from you! Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.