Amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) induced nationwide lockdown, the Assam government has begun transporting thousands of stranded people from one district to another in a three-day exercise.
Because of the lockdown, many people were stuck in different parts of Assam. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines, the Assam Government has decided to support the people’s sentiment and emotions by allowing the inter-district movement from April 25th-27th, 2020.
“The total number of registered applicants through 104 helpline number was 41,651. The lines were closed on midnight of April 23rd, 2020. Around 5,000 people were transported to 18 districts in 323 Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) buses on April 25th, 2020,” said Assam Transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary.
On April 26th, 2020, more than 12,000 people will be transported by arranging 800 ASTC buses.
“All officials of the Transport Department, ASTC have been working constantly to accomplish this massive task. I appreciate the courage, commitment and sincerity of drivers, conductors and staff of ASTC. They are the real heroes in this difficult time,” the Minister said.
He informed that the same exercise will continue on April 27th, 2020 while maintaining safety and social distancing norms allowing 15-20 persons to travel in one bus.
“For the first phase, priority was to send the passengers between two nearest districts. Accordingly, ASTC sent SMS Ticket to around 5,000 people, containing the bus details, boarding point, serial number, origin and destination, time and date of journey etc. Only those people were allowed to travel in buses who showed the confirmed SMS Ticket,” Patwory said.
In Guwahati, ASTC Paltan Bazar, Machkhowa, Adabari and ISBT, Betkuchi have been fixed as the designated boarding points.
The ASTC will also arrange adequate free bus service to pick up the people from different city bus stoppages. For other districts, ASTC headquarters bus stations will be the boarding points, the Minister informed.
From Janata Curfew to National Lockdown:
Assam Transport Department had arranged 80 vehicles for facilitating the smooth movement of those passengers who arrived at the airports and railway stations to their respective destinations on the day of Janata Curfew (March 22nd, 2020).
Transport Department had launched an operation for transportation of the people arriving at airports and railway stations from March 22nd, 23rd and 24th, 2020.
“ASTC had given more than 500 buses covering various airports and railway stations to provide transportation to people and to avoid public inconveniences. ASTC had received passengers of 20 trains and 160 flights,” Patwory said.
He added, “Approximately 16,000 people who arrived by air and 12,000 people who arrived by rail were assisted from various airports and railway stations of the state, after proper screening by the health teams.”
Transportation of essential items:
Essential commodities have been unloaded in 28 railway points in 18 districts during the lockdown period. On an average, about 1,500 trucks are being mobilized every day and so far 44,624 trucks-trips have been made in the state to unload 357 railway rakes, with 31,435 man-days work of labourers, Patwory said. This includes essential items like rice, wheat, edible oil, salt, sugar, potato, onion etc.
To ensure sufficient availability of food stock, 179 rakes of FCI have been brought to Assam for the entire North East – carrying 4.7 LMT rice and 0.21 LMT wheat. Out of these, 3.75 LMT rice and 0.14 LMT wheat is for Assam. Further, 21 more rakes carrying 27 LMT rice is enroute to Assam.
The validity of transport permits, driving licenses, registration certificates, which will expire during this lockdown period, has been extended till June 30, 2020.
“To ensure smooth movement of trucks, 45 dhabas have been ordered to be kept open on highways, for truck drivers, observing all precautions. The list has been shared with all the states as well,” Assam Transport Minister said.
Similarly, 85 truck repair shops are being kept open as per instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Photo credit: @cmpatowary