After two months in hotel rooms, NST bus drivers long for the comfort of home
Dimapur, June 7 (EMN): The Nagaland State Transport (NST) department has been providing its buses for transportation of the returnees across the state for over a month now.
Speaking to Eastern Mirror, one of the officials of the department informed that within Dimapur, around 40 NST buses, six civil secretariat buses and few private buses requisitioned by the government were being used for the transportation of the returnees.
The official informed that, so far, they have sufficient drivers since staff from other districts have been deployed here, and as of now, around 80 drivers are on duty.
He added that from Dimapur, the returnees are transported to their respective districts; and according to the new standard operating procedure (SOP), every district headquarter must arrange transportation for the returnees.
However, Dimapur NST department has to arrange extra buses as backup for the excess passengers to other districts as well.
He informed that all the officials and staff were lodged in different hotels, and have been performing their duties for more than a month without going home.
The official added that they are performing their duty on ‘rotation basis for 24 hours’.
The drivers have to transport passengers from quarantine centres, Dilai gate, New Field gate. ‘The railway station receives at least five to six trains in a day and even flights have resumed, which has only added to their stress. They are exhausted now as they are only human, but what to do, they have no option. But by God’s grace everyone is safe,’ said the official.
He also informed that they have received all the protective kits and are taking utmost care. He however added that the only problem drivers face is wearing PPE as it becomes very hot, especially for long distance journey.
He also informed that the drivers have to return after reaching the destination on the same day in order to avoid shortage of buses. “For long journey, two drivers are assigned so that on the same day they can return and continue their duty from the next day as well,” he added.
Their biggest challenge, he said, is direct contact with the passengers, especially at the railway station. He said that they have to go near the passengers, guide them to their seat, and place the luggage. ‘Even though they wear protection gear, they feel little bit insecure since they come into direct contact with the passenger,’ he said.
According to the official, the drivers want to rest and have even requested the Health department to test their samples before being sent home. The Health department has assured to conduct the tests before releasing them from duty, he said.
Also speaking to this newspaper, the Dimapur NST station driver and conductor union president, Mughaho Achumi, shared that he has been staying at a hotel and working for about a month without going home.
He acknowledged the government for providing food and all the required necessary equipment. Moreover, their ‘job is for public service,’ and they would continue providing service to the citizens, he said.
Achumi said that the transportation team is facing a hard time, adding that ‘no one asks about our situation, what we are facing day and night’. “However, we do not have anything against it as we are simply doing our job,” he added.
Achumi shared that they also want to go home to their families but even if they get leave, they have to stay in the hotel itself since they need medical certificate from the Health department to enter the colony or village.
His only appeal was to the Heath department to test their samples, so that they can go home and meet their families.