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Prospective cure for commuter train peril?

AS the government imposes strict measures on public transport control, including ordering bus operators to exercise the passenger level seat directive, the Dar es Salaam city commuter train service is a deeply worrisome ‘survival of the fittest’ drama.

Since bus transportation continues to pose challenges on commuters in the wake of implementing anti COVID – 19 safeguards, more people have resorted to use commuter trains as the alternative means of transport from their homes to the city centre.

A two-day survey by the ‘Daily News’ on commuter trains plying between Pugu and city centre as well as Ubungo and city centre established that the situation was challenging, posing serious threats to people as the trains can now unwittingly serve coronavirus spread agents.

Hectic scrambling was manifest at train stations, and the lucky ones exposed themselves to grave health risks as they were jam packed within the wagons.

This happens at a time when the government is stressing that people should avoid body contacts.

One of commuters, Ms Fatuma K abwe, who travelled by train from Gongo la Mboto to the city centre on Thursday morning, told this paper: “I am gravely disturbed when I imagine what would happen if an infected person comes into body contact with some fellow passengers.”

While the train was in motion, however, she said a train attendant addressed passengers, the gist being that they should schedule their train trips in a manner that wouldn’t compromise their safety.

Usually overcrowding is experienced at 8am and 5pm; therefore the passengers were advised to consider 7am departure time and 9am for those who were not in a hurry to go to town.

Likewise, in the evening, it was ideal to leave the city centre either at 4pm or 6 pm, when the passenger rate is lower.

Contacted for comment, The Tanz ania Railways Corporation (TRC) Director General, Masanja K adogosa, said the company had taken measures over the Covid-19.

These included increasing the number of commuter train trips from six to eight each day - four in the morning and four in the evening.

“This new arrangement is to ensure that passengers are not crowded in train. Commuters should now re-arrange their time of travelling to avoid crowding,” Mr K adogosa stated.

He assured that even if passengers were scrambling to board the train the corporation was not sanctioning the required capacity to be exceeded.

On whether the levelseating system as applies to commuter buses was being contemplated, he said trains had their own loading capacity, saying for standing passengers, the emphasis would be on keeping distances.

On his part, the Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) Director General Gilliard Ngewe said each institution had been instructed to adhere to guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to control the spread of the deadly virus.

On commuter trains, Mr Ngewe noted that the first and last railway stations guidelines were well observed because of few passengers, but the challenge was on controlling the big number of passengers at stations located in between.

THE World Vision Tanzania (WVT), in collaboration with ...

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Author: BERNARD LUGONGO

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