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According to World Health Organisation (WHO) , the new corona virus is a respiratory virus, which spread primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets generated by coughing or sneezing, which can be inhaled or contaminate hands and surfaces. Public transport system has to be considered a high-risk environment due to the high number of people in a confined space with limited ventilation, no access control to identify potentially sick persons and a variety of common surfaces to touch. The purpose of this article is to assist public transport operators which range from buses, commercial cabs and the general public on the need to comply with the Public Health Laws of Lagos State while tailoring business continuity plans in response to the specific challenges posed by COVID-19.
THE EFFECT OF PUBLIC HEALTH LAWS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT OPERATORS AND PASSENGERS AMIDST THE OUTBREAK OF THE VIRUS.
Public transport remains an essential service to provide mobility, especially for essential workers who must commute during this period. Section 32 of the Public Health Laws of Lagos State provides as follows:
‘a person suffering from any infectious disease, who enters any public means of transportation without notifying the person in charge, commits and offence and is liable to a fine of One Hundred Thousand Naira (100,000.00) or to any non-custodial sentence and in addition, may be ordered to pay to the owner, the amount of any expense such owner incurs in disinfecting the means of transportation’.
World Health Organization ‘Rolling updates on Corona virus disease’ (COVID-19)’ https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen
Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria: ‘Public Health Law’ (2015) Volume 9. CH 16
Additionally, Section 33 of the Public Health Laws of Lagos State , goes on to provide:
“A person in charge of the public transport must disinfect it after knowingly conveying a person suffering from any infectious disease and if in default commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of One hundred Thousand Naira (100,000.00) or to any non-custodial sentence: Provided that where the owner of such public transportation is unable in the opinion of the enforcement officer to adequately disinfect such transportation, it may be disinfected by the medical officer of health at the expense of the person in charge”.
Consequentially, during this pandemic period, it is expected that passengers displaying any of the symptoms or who fall under the category of those directed to self isolate must desist from any form of public transportation. Public transport operators are also required to disinfect their vehicles to curb any further spread of the Virus.
THE DUTY DESTOWED ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT OPERATORS AND ITS PASSENGERS TO CURB FURHTER TRANSMISSION OF THE DISEASE.
Public transport operators and passengers should follow the guideline provided by the Lagos State Government to curb further spread of the corona virus in buses, cabs, motor parks and garages. This include: sanitising their vehicle and parks before and after each trip, having alcohol-based sanitizers in their vehicle, spacing of passengers at least 2m (5FT) distance by anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, having temperature reader, turning off any air conditioner, etc. As stated above, where the owner of the Public transport cannot financially provide facilities necessary to curtail the transmission of the virus, such owner should make this known to the relevant authorities.
The invasion of this virus has compounded the crisis that Lagos has been thrown into since the Government banned commercial bikes and tricycle operations on some roads in the
The Guardian, ‘COVID-19: LASG issues guidelines for public transport operators, passengers to curb spread’ <https://guardian.ng/news/covid-19-lasg-issues-guidelines-for-public-transport-operators-passengers-to-curb-spread/>and Ifidon Janet, ‘Lagos Transportation Guidelines Agaisnt Coronavirus Outbreak’ https://tell.ng/lagos-transportation-guidelines-against-coronavirus-outbreak/
state. Commuters who have been slugging it out at the various bus stops and many resorting to walking, might find it difficult to obey directives of two passengers per seat on a bus as directed by the Government. However, it is necessary for passengers to maintain a good respiratory hygiene, social distance and self-isolation to curb the further transmission of this. As the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation insisted that anyone who violates these measures will face the law.
The most important recommendation for public transport owners and its passengers is to follow the guidelines provided by the Lagos State Government and WHO to curb further transmission of the virus. Both parties need to understand that failure to do so will lead to conviction as stated above. Although public transport owners might not be financial stable to provide the necessary facilities, such attention should be brought to the relevant bodies stated above. Passengers should endeavour to follow the guidelines implemented at each public transport station to curb further transmission.
WRITER: CHIDERA EZIKA
EDITOR: MOTUNRAYO OLALEYE ACArb
PUBLISHER: BA LAW LLP