The South African Transport System and the World we are living in right now

The majority of South African citizens rely on using public transport to get to work, school or the shops for essential items, which causes the risk of contracting Covid-19 much greater. This is why health measures need to be implemented to decrease the risk of the spread of Covid-19 and how we ultimately travel in the near future. 

To help flatten the curve it is imperative that all persons travelling on public transport wear home-made or medical masks. Hand sanitiser must be used wherever possible on the journey. Appropriate distances must also be kept in between commuters at all times to follow social distancing rules. 

All the above measures are in hopes to help flatten the curve of this pandemic. As similar health and safety measures have been put in place for modes of private and public transport that are allowed during the Level 4 lockdown period. As said my transport spokesperson, Ayanda-Allie Paine, measures are being set out for the readiness and viability for instituting health measures at scale before reopening the Metrorail system in either Lockdown level 3 or 2. 

The need for health and safety regulations is a challenging task but one that is undeniably needed for the South African transport system. 

According to Taryn Young, the head of the department of global health and the director of the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care at the University of Stellenbosch says  “the risk of transmission within public transport comes from the fact that it is large numbers of people who will be very close to each other”.

Therefore contracting flu using public transport is highly possible due to the distance of commuters from each other, the time spent travelling, and the lack of air in these public transport systems. The risk factor of using public transport for people who are infected but are not showing systems is that they can bring Covid-19 into new areas. 

South Africa is decreasing the risks by using four categories such as: 

  • Environmental controls, 
  • Respiratory etiquette, 
  • Hand hygiene and 
  • Mask usage 

All categories will be used to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Public Transport among commuters. 

The use of sanitisation and health screen booths are options that are being considered for rollout in large scales.  Paine says these may be used more widely because “they not only check your temperature, but they also spray with sanitisers that stay on your clothes and body for an hour while you’re commuting”.

The use of these booths is essential that is why transport Minister Fikile Mbbalula says these machines need to be “innovative, convenient and proper”. 

The South African transport system is large and changing the way it works will take complex solutions, political will and careful negotiations. 

Even though people may not comply we have to. As South Africans, we must and can win this! Our future of this nation relies on everyone’s “clean” hands right now and we can all do our part to save it.  

Read the following blog post on Coronavirus prevention: How to clean your car.

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