Drivers fear contracting coronavirus, stigma

Staff Reporter

Imphal, Mar 27: Although, the government has assured availability of essential goods during the 21-day lockdown in the state imposed to prevent spread of Covid-19, transport drivers who are supposed to bring the essential commodities are refusing to venture outside the state for fear of contracting the contagious disease with most of the trucks staying off the road. If this continues there will soon be acute shortage of essential goods in the state.

According to reports, transport vehicles have not gone outside the state except for some vehicles that came in on March 21, even though government has clearly stated that there is no restriction on transport vehicles carrying essential items. The drivers fear that without proper guidelines and protective equipment they might get infected by Coronavirus.

Speaking to The People’s Chronicle, one driver revealed that after bringing in the essential items from other states they have been barred from entering their localities, fearing that they will spread the virus to their family and neighbours. They have been told that once they enter their homes they cannot come out, anyone who has gone outside the state will not be allowed to come back until the disease has been totally controlled.

In these circumstances, it is very likely that the state will face dearth of essential commodities very soon unless the government takes some concrete measures at the earliest.

There is need of a dedicated nodal officer to create awareness amongst the drivers, to provide guidelines and protective gears for them during their transportation of essential goods from other states along with some incentives to motivate them. Unless the government takes steps to support the driver’s community, essential commodities will become in short supply in the state.

Meanwhile, there is rising discontentment amongst public over the limited number of places, where the government has opened provisional stores for providing grocery items in Imphal East and West districts. It would have been better if the number of stores was increased to 2-3 in each constituency, some people suggested.

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