Updated on: Thursday, January 06, 2022, 10:50 PM IST

Mumbai: Amid massive surge in COVID-19 cases, BEST and Western Railway employees testing positive at higher pace


One might have a difference of opinion over whether the third wave of Covid-19 has arrived or not. The schools and colleges have been shut, gardens closed and other restrictions too are in place. However the lifelines or modes of transportation that fuels movement of people are running but those running them are falling victims to the Omicron and Delta variants of Corona.

The number of employees of Indian Railways and BEST Undertaking turning positive for Covid-19 is increasing by the day which could play a big role in further amplification of the spread of virus. And then there are black and yellow taxis, aggregator cabs and auto rickshaws; on whom there is barely any mechanism for keeping check on Covid situation faced by them.

Since start of this year, there has been a rise in number of Covid cases among employees working for Indian Railways and Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking. According to BEST spokesperson Manoj Varhade, the Undertaking recorded 87 positive cases of Covid-19 out of which 22 of them were discharged.

The Western Railway has detected 378 cases among their employees since January 1, for Covid-19. The number of employees admitted to the hospital is 54.

The Free Press Journal had on January 5 first reported about BEST reporting 60 Covid cases among its employees from different bus depots. In just matter of two days, numbers went up as BEST is carrying out medical checks at their bus depots and office buildings for its staffs. These are namely bus drivers and conductors who come in contact with passengers every day.

And at present the daily average ferried by BEST is over 28.50 lakh passengers. They have asked their employees to check the double vaccination certificates and Universal Pass before allowing people to board and if one doesn’t have then they are disallowed to travel. On the other hand the BEST is also offering lucrative ticketing schemes to attract more footfalls.

If we look at the rail authorities; there are well over 46 lakh passengers commuting daily in local trains on both Western and Central Railways. There have been days, when the daily footfall has crossed 64 lakh as well. However at present the rail employees are under attack from the virus. On January 6, 62 of WR employees working at rail workshop were found to be Covid positive.

“We realize that Covid cases are increasing but the government should not curtail local train services. They should make travel and check stricter for people and restrictions can be levied so that people follow Covid protocols while travelling,” said Nandkumar Deshmukh, president, Federation of Suburban Passengers Association.

According to WR officials, there are 54 staffs admitted at Jagjivan Ram Hospital out of which 46 of them or so were found positive for Covid in this month and are being treated at the hospital. As of now, those who need medical attention and have comorbidities are getting hospitalized. Sources said that many are complaining of cough and cold and they come to work. The Central Railway claims that there are only 9 Covid positive cases.

“The best option now to control crowding inside public transportation is staggered office timings. The government should enforce it on private offices as well if people are called for work,” said Shailesh Raut of Kalyan Kasara Railway Passenger Association.

If we see the auto rickshaws and taxis; then there is no organization to verify on how many of their drivers are actually fully vaccinated and/or are suffering from Covid symptoms now. Taxi union leader A L Quadros said that 75-80 percent of their drivers are fully vaccinated, however they do not have a number of drivers who are complaining of cough, cold or fever under the prevailing situation.

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Published on: Friday, January 07, 2022, 07:04 AM IST