COVID-19 in Mumbai: Plastic sheets to screen cab, auto drivers from passengers

Updated: Jun 12, 2020, 07:41 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Auto and taxi unions have been approaching workshops and garages to create plastic cocoons as armour against COVID

A screengrab of the video shared by @phildoeshair on Instagram shows a cab driver in New York, US inside a plastic seal
A screengrab of the video shared by @phildoeshair on Instagram shows a cab driver in New York, US inside a plastic seal

Plastic separator sheets, like the ones used in buses, will now be a key safety kit for taxis and autorickshaws in the city to ensure distancing between drivers and passengers.

Auto, taxi unions in Mumbai have been approaching workshops and garages to get such sheets prepared in bulk. "It will cost around R500 per sheet but will ensure safety against the virus inside the cab. It will also act as a wall of sorts and customers will feel safer take to more cabs in absence of smooth public transport," Mumbai Taximen's Union general secretary Anthony L Quadros said.

Mumbai Automen's Union leader Shashank Shard Rao said the sheets will prove useful, but it is also important to get into the economics. "Auto drivers are already in losses due to the long absence from business and the sheets cost money. The government should work out some solution for auto drivers and give them some monetary assistance," he said. Officials at the transport department have also verbally conveyed such an idea to trade unions, though a formal advisory is still awaited.

A commuter, Tulkia Singh, said that the idea is fine, but it could add to the risk. "With plastic sheets around, we will have to keep windows of the rear open, exposing ourselves to heat, dust and droplets in traffic jams when vehicles stand close-by at signals, it could be problematic. The AC will have to be shut and it will lead to more heat and uncomfortable rides," she said.

Another commuter, Govind Bhalerao, said that the plastic sheets would work fine in the monsoon, but will be problematic in the summer. "With Mumbai's hot climate, it would be very stuffy inside the cab," he said. Saying the idea would work fine with autos, Bhalerao said that there should be small vents so air flows towards the passenger at the back.

An Instagram user @phildoeshair shared a video on Instagram of a cab driver who created a plastic cocoon for himself: "My Lyft driver created this airtight seal in his car. If anyone out there is doing Lyft or Uber for work, you may consider doing this to protect yourself and others..."

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