COVID-19: Over 2 million transport workers in critical condition —Wabba

•As NLC calls for immediate opening of inter-state road transport service

The President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has cried out that over two million of the congress affiliate members in the road transport sector are worst hit by the effect of the COVID-19 lock down; and are in critical condition, dying in silence.

To this end, the NLC has called for immediate opening of inter-state road transport service, but with the development of protocol to drive the system.

He also called for the development of sector specific protocols to ensure the gradual opening of all sectors of the economy, but with the inter-state movements of people and vehicles given immediate priority.

Speaking to Nigeria Tribune, Wabba said there was no justification for the government decision to open air transport service but lock down on road transport; adding that the Federal Government cannot open the aviation industry for local flights when the ban on interstate movements was still in force.

The NLC President said, “If the Federal Government is opening aviation industry for local flights, then nothing stops them from also opening inter -state travels because as I speak over two million of road transport workers have not gotten anything including palliative. These are people in the private businesses in the informal sector. They are at home and it is affecting them very badly.

“We must open up all sectors of the economy with specific sector protocols.

This is also affecting businesses; it is affecting small and medium scale businesses.

“So, our proposal is that the Federal Government should have protocols to open up inter-state businesses including road transport workers.

“Just as they are doing for the aviation sector, they should do same for all other sectors including road transport workers and inter-state travels.

“The Federal Government should have a specific timeline for those sectors to open up, the lockdown can not be perpetual and that has been our position consistently. In many climes, that is how businesses are operating, therefore, we should not be exceptional.”

“The issue of lockdown cannot be perpetual, in fact, at the point where we are now with the community transmission, what is required is for people to take responsibility. It is individual responsibility that will strengthen the approach to the issue because if you lockdown the border and within the state things are happening, I don’t think we will be addressing the issue.

“Our last proposal to the government which we have made public is that we must find a way of coming up with sector specific protocols and timeline to open up the sectors. It is very critical for the economic activities to pick up.”

“We must look strategically to see how can open up every sector but with a sector specific protocol that can take care of any challenge because we cannot remain perpetually in lockdown.  What we should do tomorrowto save the livelihood of many people, why should you delay it if you can put protocols in place that will address it today?

“Like the aviation sector that we are talking about, cases are still increasing but we are coming up with a protocol to say that we are opening the sector because it has impacted negatively on the economy of aviation sector.

“Government should have looked at every sector guidelines that will guarantee the safety of the people. It’s not rocket science, many countries have done it. Sweden for example have not closed own for one day and cases have gone down using strategy and science.”

 

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