ABUJA – The National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) on Thursday advised its members against over loading passengers to reduce the spread of Ebola virus disease (EVD).
Mr Kefas Dogonyaro, the Public Relations Officer of the union, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Dogonyaro expressed concern at the spread of the EVD and cautioned motorists to refrain from carrying excess passengers or risk contracting the disease.
“There is need for motorists to stick to the normal number of passengers meant for the kind of vehicle they are using.
“We have been drumming it to our members even before the inception of the virus.
“There are security personnel who are on the road to check the excesses of the drivers that pick up passengers by the road side.
“The union also impounds the vehicle of such a driver for some hours depending on the level of the offence and we also have bye-laws that regulate this body,’’ he said.
He said that a taxi was meant to carry five passengers with the driver inclusive, while Toyota Hiace buses were designed to carry 18 passengers.
The spokesman pointed out that the ministries of transport and health had held stakeholders meeting to sensitise union members against possible transmission of EVD through over-loading and human friction.
Mr Maduka Udo, a motorist in FCT, confirmed that the union always emphasised on the normal number of passengers their vehicles were meant to carry.
While expressing fear at the rapid spread and the means of transmission of the EVD, Udo said “but health is better than wealth. We need to be alive to make money.
“There are situations when we carry passengers from the market or people that have walked a distance and are all sweating, but we still carry them because we need the money.
“If the union will really enforce this rule this time, I think it will go a long way to safeguard us and the passengers we carry.’’
Mr Emmanuel Nagye, another motorist, told NAN that “although the union insists on a number of passengers but we still pick more passengers along the road because we pay toll fees at the park.
“This is to enable us replace the one we used to pay toll fees at the park’’.
Miss Doris Eke, a passenger, said she has taken to hire cab to reduce body friction with people.
“Any day I cannot afford hiring a taxi and am not opportune to sit at the front of the cab with the driver, I make sure we are three at the back seat.
“Although this will not totally rule out the transmission of the disease but it may reduce it,’’ she said.
The deadly EVD has affected some African countries including Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria. (NAN)