COVID-19 | BEST has blacked out data on number of dead and infected: Trade union leader Shashank Rao

Updated: 13 August, 2020 07:51 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Trade union leader Shashank Rao claimed this during webinar on pandemic and role of BEST; other participants allege staff has not got enough protection from COVID-19

A BEST driver and conductor cover their faces as protection while working during the lockdown. Pic/Atul Kamble
A BEST driver and conductor cover their faces as protection while working during the lockdown. Pic/Atul Kamble

The BEST staff that has been running buses non-stop since the lockdown was imposed, has not got adequate protection from the novel Coronavirus, as they mingle with thousands of commuters every day, leading to a high number of infected cases among them, prominent participants at a webinar, COVID-19 and the role of the BEST, have said.

Organised by NGO 'Aamchi Mumbai, Aamchi BEST,' on Wednesday, experts said that the BEST needs to roll up their sleeves and gear up more sincerely.

"The number of dead due to the pandemic is about 115 staffers, but the Undertaking does not accept that figure and says it is only 27. The BEST administration has blacked out data on the number of dead and infected, which has totally been over 1,000. There is not a single hospital for the staff, which is rushed to various hospitals in a scattered way," trade union leader Shashank Sharad Rao, convener, BEST Workers' Joint Action Committee said.

He said employees of the BEST Undertaking had sought placing of 20 beds at each bus depot to quarantine employees, or at least a temporary COVID-19 hospital facility for them and their families at the training center at Wadala depot, but none of this has been accepted.

BEST officials said since the lockdown came into effect on March 24, BEST has not stopped its services, even as the lifeline of Mumbai, the local trains, came to a halt. It kept on ferrying essential workers and increased its services progressively and now is close to inducting its entire fleet of 3,400 buses for passengers.

BEST officials refused to comment on the allegations and have remained unavailable to the media.

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First Published: 13 August, 2020 07:29 IST

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