Lack of distancing in public transport a big risk

SRINAGAR: After a long battle with Covid-19, there is some relief in Jammu and Kashmir as life is getting back to normal, gradually, due to the lowering number of fresh cases. However, the virus is still out there and there is every possibility that it can spread and mutate again. Non-adherence to Covid SOPs, especially in public transport, is a clear and present danger.
The government has made it clear to transporters that they have to operate at only half the capacity for passengers, but the rule has been thrown to the wind everywhere. Mohammad Shaban, a frequent passenger to Srinagar from Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that not even a single day has he seen any taxi vehicle adhering to the rules. He said that the taxis only charge double the rates as per the government directions.
Shaban works in Srinagar in a government department. Instead of staying here in the city, he shuttle between the two districts every day. But this lack of caution in public transport has made him worried. Despite the ubiquitous presence of police on roads, no driver cares to observe the SOPs.
Transport Commissioner JK, Pradeep Kumar, told Kashmir Reader that the department has laid out the SOPs and it is the police who have to enforce it. SSP Traffic Srinagar Javaid Koul told Kashmir Reader that deployment is not possible at all the places. Neither challans nor punishing the offenders by other means is the solution, he says; what needs to be done is responsible conduct by the public itself, he said.
“We have spoken to transport associations, too, about it. They must also ensure that rules are followed. There are issues, and we are working on them. There needs to be a joint effort,” Koul said.
People who take public transport, however, are helpless. The taxi drivers are not at a loss because they have been asked to charge double, but the lack of enough taxis and buses is what forces passengers to get into crowded vehicles, says Abdul Ahad, who has been driving a taxi for a year.
“If a bus has a carrying capacity of 30, and takes only 15, where will the rest of the passengers go? People need to understand this. Expecting drivers to enforce the rules is impossible,” he added.

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