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By Esther Chirwa
Solwezi Municipal Council will effective 15th September, 2020 ban Public Service Vehicles transporters from parking their buses overnight at the Solwezi Main Bus Station as a measure to decongest the facility amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was revealed when Solwezi Mayor Nicholas Mukumbi held a meeting with Bus Operators in his Chambers in the company of North Western Provincial Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) Manager Misheck Lungu, Zambia Police District Inspector Patson Chikwa, Director Housing and Social Services Andrew Kalemba and Director Public Health Wamunyima Mumbali.
The Mayor was concerned at the increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the district emphasising the need to adhere to the Presidential directives on Public Health guidelines as a measure against further spread of the disease.
Mr Mukumbi said the meeting with bus operators was imperative as it will enable the implementation of measures to minimise congestion at the bus station and eventually reduce the level of contamination or transmission of the Coronavirus due to the high population at the facility.
He was quick to mention that Bus Operators are among key stakeholders in minimising the spread of Covid-19 due to the high number of people they interact with. He noted the need for Bus Operators to strictly observe guidelines from the Ministry of Heath as they ferry people from various destinations in the Country in order to save lives.
The Mayor admitted that Solwezi has become a hive of activities emanating from its new title as the “new Copperbelt” therefore the need to make drastic decisions in order to safeguard the lives of people.
The Bus Operators were advised among other measures, to invest in parking infrastructure where their buses could be parked overnight as opposed to parking at the station.
The Mayor also called on the operators to join the bandwagon with the mission of saving lives and minimise government expenditure on COVID-19 related matters.
North Western Provincial RTSA Manager Mr Misheck Lungu assented that bus operators have a major role to play in flattening the transmission curve of the pandemic that had adversely hit the economy of Zambia and the world at large. Mr Lungu implored the Bus Operators not to treat the issue of the COVID-19 as business as usual, but make far reaching decisions for the safety of themselves, their families and all the people they come into contact with.
“There is always the first time for things to be done the right way, the time is now for all of us to do the right thing for Solwezi”, Mr Lungu said.
He implored Bus Operators to practise good customer service by ensuring their buses are clean at all times, avoiding harassment of passengers and sticking to the departure time among others in order to retain customers.
The ban of parking Public Service Vehicles overnight at the Main Bus Station is one among many other measures the Local Authority will implement with a view of creating order at the station and help in reducing the further spread of the Coronavirus in the district.
The writer is Solwezi Municipal Council Assistant Public Relations Manager.