…As Falana urges enforcement of Quarantine Act***
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) says it has arrested a total of 144 traffic offenders for overloading passenger vehicles in a bid to mitigate the further spread of Coronavirus among commuters in public transport.
The Corps Marshal of FRSC, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, disclosed this in a statement by the Corps’ Public Education Officer, Mr Bisi Kazeem on Thursday.
According to Oyeyemi, all categories of transporters should ensure full compliance with the provisions of Regulation 108 (1) of the National Road Traffic Regulation 2012 on compulsory passenger manifest.
He directed all public transport operators to apply necessary precautionary measures in their parks and terminals as failure to adhere strictly to this order would attract the necessary sanctions.
“The corps observes that despite the palpable spread of the virus, public transport operators continue to board passengers to full capacity without consideration to social distancing, passenger manifest and seat spacing of passengers.
“This unhealthy behavior if not put to check on time has the potential to fuel the spread of the virus.
“All passengers traveling; not only during the epidemic regime but at all times, have the statutory obligation to write down their full information in the passenger manifest before commencement of the trip,”he said.
Oyeyemi noted that putting down details of passengers on a manifest was a mandatory and acceptable practice all over the world.
He said that the document contained basic information including contacts of next of kin of all the passengers traveling in the vehicle for ease of identification and contact in the case of any eventuality.
“The emphasis on the need for compulsory adherence to the NRTR 2012 provision is to make sure that details of all passengers conveyed in each vehicle are adequately collected.
“This is to arrest further spread of the virus per chance any of the passengers is tested positive even after the trip,” he added.
He warned passengers to comply by filling the passenger manifest before their journey commences.
He said that any transporter who violated the order would be made to face the wrath of the law when apprehended.
On overloading, Oyeyemi said that the figures of the arrests was drawn from 16 states with the highest number of arrests recorded in the Federal Capital Territory where a total of 52 overloaded vehicles were impounded.
He added that Lagos State followed with a total of 17 arrests.
He said that the essence of the enforcement was to maintain social distance amongst passengers in vehicles as a panacea to mitigating the spread of the deadly virus.
Oyeyemi ordered all pubic transporters to ensure full compliance with all precautionary measures to curb the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
He listed the directives to include sanitisation of motor parks/terminals with emphasis on objects and areas that people frequently come in contact with such as rails, grab handles and seats.
The FRSC boss said that public transporters should provide handwashing points with running water, hand wash equipment, detergent, and alcohol-based sanitisers.
He said that transport operators should ensure reasonable social distance on seating arrangements for waiting passengers in their parks and terminals.
Oyeyemi called for provision of temperature readers to test all passengers before boarding and alcohol-based sanitisers in vehicles for the use of all occupants including drivers and conductors and passengers.
In the meantime, Human rights crusader, Mr Femi Falana, on Thursday called on the Federal Government to enforce the Quarantine Act to check the spread of coronavirus.
Falana made the call in a statement in Lagos, highlighting that a declaration of state of emergency would provide the basis for prosecution of anyone flouting the regulations.
“It is common knowledge that leaders of many countries have since invoked the provisions of relevant statutes to declare a state of emergency before imposing restriction on the locomotion of people and lockdown of towns.
“Having confirmed that the presidency is on lockdown, we are compelled to call on state governors to apply the Quarantine Act, which provides for and regulates the imposition of quarantine and to make other provisions for preventing the introduction into and spread in Nigeria and the transmission from Nigeria of dangerous infectious diseases.
“In particular, state governors are urged to invoke Section 8 of the Act which empowers them to make such declarations and issue necessary regulations to combat any infectious disease such as COVID-19,” he said.
According to Falana, once the declaration is made, the police can prosecute anyone who violates any regulation on the basis of the Quarantine Act.
“Furthermore, the attention of members of the public should be drawn to the stringent penalties prescribed by the Criminal Code and Penal Code for offences endangering life or health including reckless or negligent acts causing harm to people,” he said.