RAWALPINDI: The federal government has decided to resume train services and allow public transport vehicles to operate with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent Covid-19 infections.
The Pakistan Railways is preparing to resume its operations. It will operate 28 trains in the first stage after permission if granted. The trains will be washed after every journey. Engine drivers and carriage staff have been instructed to remain ready to return to work.
The district administration has formulated the guidelines for ensuing social distancing and other precautionary measures in consultation with transporters. They have been forwarded to the government for approval.
Haji Zahoor Elahi and Asif Khan, leaders of the transporters association, told reporters that sanitiser walkthrough gates would be installed at bus stations. Passengers will not be allowed to enter the bus stations without masks.
They further said passengers as well as drivers and conductors would be required to wear masks and gloves.
Passengers will be checked with thermal scanners before boarding buses and those suffering from any symptoms of Covid-19 will not be allowed to travel.
The buses will be cleaned with chlorinated water after every journey.
Earlier this month, the Pakistan Railways had announced its decision to partially restore its operations in the country from May 10.
It said 15 trains would be operated in the first stage and only 60% seats in each of them would be reserved.
However, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19 had turned down Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid’s proposal to partially resume train services.
After failing to garner support of all provinces to resume train services from May 10, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has appealed to the prime minister to allow some trains to start chugging, vowing that all SOPs for prevention of coronavirus will be “strictly” followed.
In a statement, the railways minister said: “It is my desire that the transport of the poor – trains – should be resumed before Eidul Fitr.”
He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan would review the situation soon. “We will adopt all precautionary measures which are included in the SOPs.”
The minister expressed hope that the prime minister would approve the resumption of train services before Eidul Fitr.
He lauded the cooperation of the people, shopkeepers and the clerics with the government during the virus-induced lockdown in the country.
“It is our desire that the government, along with easing the lockdown, should restore the train services.”
He expressed disappointment over not obtaining the approval of the provinces for restoring train services.