A Metro Mass Transit (MMT) bus driver and some 52 passengers have been arrested in Obuasi in the Ashanti Region for their failure to adhere to social distancing protocols, 3news.com reports.
Although the MMT is designed to carry 52 passengers, management of the company have directed all its buses to take only 23 passengers as part of measures taken to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The decision is in line with government’s directive to commercial drivers to reduce the number of passengers in their vehicles as part of raft measures taken to contain the disease which has infected 1,671 people in Ghana with 16 deaths and 188 recoveries.
Despite the directive, the driver whose name has been given as Peter Tuffuor was said to pick 52 passengers in clear breach of the directive.
The vehicle registered AS 1725 – 10 was travelling from Obuasi to Dunkwa-Offin in the Central Region.
Upon reaching Kunka Junction, the Taskforce arrested the driver together with all the 52 passengers, but after several minutes, the police released all the passengers to go on humanitarian grounds.
The driver has however been detained at the Obuasi police station.
Obuasi Police Commander, DSP Martin Asenso, said although the vehicle had 52 passengers, the waybill showed there were supposed to be 47 passengers including the driver.
“The waybill as I’m having here is having 47 persons on it including the driver. So it is more, more over loaded. It means that they are not observing the presidential order on social distancing,” he said.
On the back of that, he said all the passengers and the vehicle were arrested and brought to the police station but upon consultations, they resolved to let go the passengers on humanitarian grounds.
“There are a lot of children among the passengers and looking at the circumstances, we have to be a little moderate; show human face.”
As a result, he said a decision was taken to transport all the passengers to the Obuasi Lorry station to join different vehicles to their various destination, but said “the driver and the vehicle have been arrested and detained for further investigation”.
He said they will not relent in enforcing the directive on social distancing and the wearing of nose and face masks to stop the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Tuffour claimed the directive from his supervisors was for them to enforce the wearing of nose mask by all passengers and not reduce the number.
According to him, the supervisors of MMT have said they will run at a loss should they reduce the number of passengers for which reason they rather resolved to enforce wearing of n
Some of the passengers who spoke to 3news.com said they raised the issue of social distancing when boarding the vehicle but were ignored.