LISTEN | 'High-risk' Gautrain sets out sanitisers to keep commuters safe

13 March 2020 - 14:54 By Andisiwe Michelle May and Amina Asma
Commuters making use of the sanitiser stands at the Hatfield Gautrain station.
Commuters making use of the sanitiser stands at the Hatfield Gautrain station.
Image: Andisiwe Michelle May

With thousands of people commuting daily between Johannesburg and Pretoria amid the coronavirus outbreak, public transport modes such as the Gautrain are high risk places for contracting the infectious disease.

Universities and corporates in Gauteng are in the process of disabling their biometric access systems in the wake of the six confirmed coronavirus cases in the province. This has sparked action from mass commuter rail system Gautrain to implement measures to keep their passengers safe.

LISTEN to how the Gautrain aims to protect commuters:

The company has placed sanitiser stands at various stations after a commuter made a suggestion on Twitter.

As passengers walked into Hatfield station on Wednesday morning, there were sanitiser stands available for use before scanning their cards and making their way to the platform.

Bombela's marketing and communication executive, Kesagee Nayager, said that they have been taking extra measures since the outbreak.

“We have made hand sanitisers available at the Sandton, Hatfield and OR Tambo stations. Once we are able to secure more stock of this product, we will make this available at other stations as well,” said Nayager.

Metro stations around the world have increased cleaning measures since the coronavirus outbreak.

Nayager said that Gautrain stations, trains, buses and midi-buses are cleaned daily. “The wellbeing of our passengers and staff remain a priority for us so we will continue to monitor developments in this regard and keep our passengers updated,” said Nayager.

Panic over the coronavirus in SA has resulted in pharmacies running out of face masks, hand sanitisers, gloves and liquid hand soaps.

Despite repeated pleas from the government not to panic, South Africans are bulk-buying face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers. This is forcing distributors to limit purchases by customers.

Chief commercial officer at Clicks Rachel Wrigglesworth said there has been an increase in sales of hygiene products and that their prices will remain unchanged.

“We are working hard to meet the surge in demand and are putting in place additional measures to ensure that shelves are restocked as quickly as possible” said Wrigglesworth.

Clicks, like others companies, said it was working on creating awareness about the virus among its staff by introducing daily training  on Covid-19  and encouraging them to wash their hands regularly. Clicks is also introducing safety measures at their stores across the country.

“We will be placing trolley wipes and hand sanitisers at the front of stores and in the pharmacy for customers, and have increased cleaning frequency of our stores,” said Wrigglesworth.

Gautrain commuters expressed how content they are with efforts by the railway to bring about awareness and safety.

“It's good to see that there are awareness measures in place but it is concerning that SA hasn't placed a travel ban because these confirmed cases come from travellers,” said a commuter.