Tourism and transport sector is one of the most affected sectors by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, state transport corporations are coming forward to help the authorities in controlling the pandemic. Discussing the efforts by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), Shivayogi C Kalasad, IAS, Managing Director, KSRTC joined Virtual National Transport Summit organised by Elets Technomedia.
On initiatives, Mr. Kalasad said, “We had to come up with regular cleaning and disinfecting buses. We also had to ensure that the confidence of people is kept.”
The major touchpoints, water tanks and other areas which are vulnerable to touch were disinfected. Besides this, other preventive measures were also strictly implemented to endure that our measures are in line with the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Government of India, he added.
“Also, employee protection measures were taken to ensure the health and safety of employees. Mask protection system was introduced in our bus depots. As the depots were lying defunct, we appointed them the task of stitching the masks as per the requirement”, he said.
For passengers’ safety, said Kalasad, “We started thermal checks of the passengers. Also, COVID awareness messages were printed on the tickets, and free masks were distributed to passengers. Further, adequate information was also being disseminated to passenger on the bus stands as well as through different social media as well.”
Mr. Kalasad said, “COVID has certainly changed the way we think, the way we live and the way we operate. The economy of any country is very important and the transport sector, especially roads, is one of the major sectors. A few challenges as I quote would be – operational challenge, financial challenge, impact on the staffing patterns, impact on security measures, and also the assessment at demand and service level, etc. In addition, crew management issues, the fleet management issues and behavioural changes in the commuters will also be a challenge in times to come.”
Preparations for Pandemic
Citing preparations he said, “In March when we came to know the Coronavirus spread is highly contagious, we cut off our interstate bus services and restricted the operations of our inter-district buses as well. However, when the lockdown was announced the whole transport sector nose-dived. However, we were prepared for that.”
Social distancing is being ensured and people are themselves now in a habit of following physical distancing. Moreover, “we have almost 20 mobile fever clinics which are being operated by our own staff through PPP mode. This received a lot of appreciation in the state as well as across the country”, added Mr. Kalasad.
Testing equipment has to be escalated and Karnataka has the highest number of tests being conducted per million persons in the entire country. Testing is the key and also the other protocol has to be followed to contain the virus effectively, he said.