BUS and Taxi Owners Association of Zambia spokesperson Amis Daudi says there is a popular misconception among passengers that they are not supposed to wear face masks if divers and conductors are not wearing them.

Speaking in an interview, Daudi said individually, we all have the responsibility to protect ourselves from Covid-19.

“What I’m saying is that if I meet someone and he/she is not wearing a face mask, why should I take off mine? When I see that someone is not wearing a mask, I should put on mine, that is a logical thing to do. If a passenger sees that the driver or conductor is not wearing a mask, then the passenger also decides to take off his or her face mask because the drivers and conductors are not wearing their face masks, that is not supposed to be like that. If a passenger gets on a bus or taxi and finds that the conductor or driver is not wearing a mask they should be the first ones to put on theirs because they should protect themselves from the driver and conductor that has COVID 19,” he said.

“So the argument on the passenger’s side is that they are taking off because the conductors and the drivers are not wearing masks is misplaced. If you find yourself in a group of people and they are not masking up, you should be the first one to wear yours and then urge them to wear theirs as well. Because when I’m wearing a mask, I’m protecting myself from receiving an infection from you and I’m also protecting you by not spreading the infection. We are still in this Covid pandemic era and no authority has declared that it is complete and finished and they are urging us to follow the five golden rules for protecting ourselves from Covid-19. Those rules are still standing for everyone, for the driver, for the conductor and for the passenger.”

He, however, said bus operators should be at the forefront of advocating for adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.

“If you are going to the bus station, you should be going there already wearing a mask because it’s your health. If you get Covid from the driver and then take it to your home, who else is going to have consequences? It is yourself. So let us protect ourselves, individually, and I would like to urge all members of the public to wear their face masks, wash their hands regularly, walk with hand sanitisers, so that each time they touch other surfaces, they wash their hands and sanitise. For the bus operators and taxi drivers and conductors, they should be in the forefront to show their passengers that they cannot allow them on their vessels without a face mask. They must be in the stations where people can wash their hands and sanitise before they get on a bus,” he said.

“In fact, taxis and buses are encouraged to have hand sanitisers when people board buses. They are supposed to spray their hands with hand sanitiser so that they keep the health guidelines and protect themselves from contracting Covid-19. And we should not allow people to relax, like the Bible tells us that we should be each other’s keeper. If you get on a bus and you find a brother who is not wearing a mask, you tell him to wear his mask before the vehicle starts moving. Then If the driver or conductor is not putting on a mask, you have to tell him so that he should put on his mask even before you as a passenger gets on his vehicle. Similarly, if you go to a bus or taxi and you are not wearing a mask, the driver or conductor should not allow you to enter the bus until you wear your face mask and sanitise your hands.”

He said his association did not have the authority to force drivers to follow the health guidelines.

“We are not an enforcement wing, we cannot force them to follow the health guidelines. Me as a spokesperson or chairman for Lusaka, I go and stand in the station and make sure that every driver has a mask? No. We have directed all transport operators and owners to ensure that they are reminded everyday of the Covid-19 issue. It is up to the operator, the driver himself and the conductor himself individually to ensure that they comply with Covid-19 regulations,” said Daudi.

“So the requirements were Covid-19 should be internalised, each person should accept this as their own responsibility whether you are an operator, driver, conductor, pedestrian, a passenger on a vehicle, you should have this in your heart that there is Covid-19 and I must protect myself as well as others continually not just periodically.”