On the annual commemoration day of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking, the frontline workers stated that the year 2020 has been the most challenging year for them.
BEST buses have been the second lifeline for Mumbaikars however, amid the prevalence of the coronavirus pandemic, BEST has emerged to become the major lifeline of the city. From transportation of paramedics to transforming buses into mobile refrigerators and ambulances, BEST has left no stone unturned to provide logistical support to the city's finest engaged in the war against pandemic.
"The last five months has been the most challenging days of my life. This period taught us that what responsibility looks like," said Nitin Patil a BEST driver who had been entrusted the duty of transporting paramedics.
"Being conductors often people looked down upon us with an inferior attitude. In these times of crisis, BEST workers have tend proved that we are important for the society too and our work can also make a difference," said Suhas Pawar, a conductor, who has also been a COVID-19 survivor.
"In the last five months BEST have conducted rescue operations for stranded international passengers. The character BEST has shown is unput-downable, which boosted our enthusiasm too," Pawar added.
So far, more than 1,500 frontline workers got infected on their line of duty, of which 26 employees have succumbed so far. However, giving a tough fight against the virus, more than 1,300 patients have already recovered and have joined their duty. There are nearly 250 active cases in the undertaking and the recovery rate of the employees stand at 80 per cent.
"The BEST employees have shown character not just on the duty but also when they became infected. Many employees have been stigmatized after they were infected. However, they fought all odds and joined the duty as soon as they were fit," BEST Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Anil Kumar Singhal said. Singhal led the Undertaking's fight against the pandemic from the frontline.
"The last five months showed that how important BEST is for the Mumbai city. The trains are suspended, there was no metro, yet BEST had let the city moving" stated a senior BEST official.
"People may say, BEST is in a loss but we never think of that way. For us service comes first. In the future also BEST will continue to serve if a similar situation arises" stated the official.
BEST committee member and Congress corporator, Bhushan Patil stated, "BEST workers have done a commendable job amid the pandemic, their selfless service could never be replaced".
Patil made a courtesy visit to Northern Mumbai's Magathane depot on Friday and handed BEST employees with oximeters, soaps, sanitisers and masks as tokens of gratitude for their service.