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Long distance bus operators set to resume business

LONG distance public bus operators met Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development officials to thrash out modalities in resuming inter-city travel that may see buses returning on the roads starting possibly this weekend.

Government early this week approved intercity travel as it further eased lockdown restrictions in an effort to reopen the economy and in view of the reopening of schools for examination classes to allow smooth movement of candidates and generality of travelers.

Long distance public transport operators parked their buses when Government suspended intercity travel and banned all long distance buses from operating as the country effected a national lockdown in March as one of the measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Only haulage trucks ferrying and distributing goods in essential and exempted businesses were permitted to travel from one city to another and even beyond borders.

Some bus operators partnered Zupco to provide service within urban areas while others had parked their fleet for the past five months.

On Tuesday the Government said transport operators are now required to first register with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to ensure that they strictly comply with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for their sector in line with WHO guidelines and Covid-19 regulations.

Operators met Transport Ministry officials yesterday to discuss the proposed guidelines for resuming services.

In an interview, Coach and Bus Operators Association (CBOA) chief executive officer Mr Aleck Kautsiro said operators are happy to resume operations.

“Approval by Cabinet is just the beginning of a process to get buses back on the road. We had a meeting where most members were represented. We went through standard operating procedures and requirements proposed by Government and everyone is happy as implementing them will not be a challenge,” he said.

Mr Kautsiro said operators whose permits and licences are in order may start operating as soon as they meet Government requirements as stated by Cabinet.

“It may not be immediate but gradually people will start coming back. Some may start this weekend if their permits are still valid and they get registered in line with the required Covid-19 protocols as stated by Government. Government has said it wants operators to operate viably hence everyone is excited,” said Mr Kautsiro.

More —The Chronicle

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