In one of the biggest simultaneous transport operations across the country, the Assam State Transport Corporation has conducted a massive operation involving 41000 people and nearly 1400 busses from various places around the state in a span of three days.
Because of the lockdown, many people were stuck in different parts of Assam. As per the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines, the Assam Government has decided to support the people’s sentiment and emotions by allowing the inter-district movement from April 25-27.
The total number of registered applicants through 104 helpline number was 41,651. The lines were closed on midnight of April 23, 2020.
On Day 1, i.e. April 25, 2020, Transport Department put 323 buses into service for facilitating the travel of around 5,000 registered passengers for short-distance journey in 18 districts. To ensure social distancing, each ASTC bus carried 15-20 passengers within short distances only.
For the first phase, priority was to send the passengers between two nearest districts. Accordingly, ASTC sent SMS Ticket to around 5,000 people, containing the bus details, boarding point, serial number, origin and destination, time and date of journey etc. Only those people were allowed to travel in buses who showed the confirmed SMS Ticket.
In Guwahati, for today and tomorrow, ASTC, Paltan Bazar, Machkhowa, Adabari and ISBT, Betkuchi have been fixed as the designated boarding points. ASTC will also arrange adequate free bus service to pick up the people from different city bus stoppages. For other districts, ASTC headquarters bus stations will be the boarding points.
On Day 2, i.e. April 26, 2020 more than 12,000 people will be transported by arranging 800 ASTC buses. All officials of the Transport Department, ASTC have been working constantly to accomplish this massive task. I appreciate the courage, commitment and sincerity of drivers, conductors and staff of ASTC. They are the real heroes in this difficult time.
Addressing a news conference Assam Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that Assam was basically a consumer state where, essential, non-essential and other edible items are transported from outside the state. During this difficult time, the Transport Department has been relentlessly working with Indian Railways and Food and Civil Supplies Department to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to Assam and other North-Eastern states. The objective was to maintain the food chain undisrupted.
Essential drugs and medicines to all North East States are supplied from Guwahati. Transport Department facilitated the movement of these drugs to places like Agartala and Imphal. Likewise, trucks were arranged for sending masks and other COVID protection items to Aizawl, on request from Government of Mizoram.
Essential commodities have been unloaded in 28 railway points in 18 districts. On an average, about 1,500 trucks are being mobilized every day and so far 44,624 trucks-trips have been made in the state to unload 357 railway rakes, with 31,435 man-days work of labourers. This includes essential items like rice, wheat, edible oil, salt, sugar, potato, onion etc.
To ensure sufficient availability of food stock, 179 rakes of FCI have been brought to Assam for the entire North East – carrying 4.7 LMT rice and 0.21 LMT wheat. Out of these, 3.75 LMT rice and 0.14 LMT wheat is for Assam. Further, 21 more rakes carrying 27 LMT rice is en route to Assam.
Transport Department has taken some other initiatives during this period. The validity of transport permits, driving licenses, registration certificates, which will expire during this lockdown period, has been extended till June 30, 2020.
To ensure smooth movement of trucks, 45 dhabas have been ordered to be kept open on highways, for truck drivers, observing all precautions. The list has been shared with all the states as well.
Similarly, 85 truck repair shops are being kept open as per instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The officials and staff of the Transport Department have been working constantly for transportation of trucks so that the supply chain remains uninterrupted. Therefore there has no shortage of essential goods in Assam. Transport Department is committed to ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to every nook and corner of Assam.
ASTC bus service to other stakeholders:
ASTC has also been extending support to manage the situation arising from the pandemic in the State by providing 211 buses which are now operating in coordination with district administrations, hospitals, police and municipal bodies. Out of these 211 buses, 39 buses are operating with the Health Department and facilitating the movement of health officials.
ASTC had given more than 500 buses covering various airports and railway stations to provide transportation to people and to avoid public inconveniences. ASTC had received passengers of 20 trains and 160 flights. Approximately 16,000 people who arrived by air and 12,000 people who arrived by rail were assisted from various airports and railway stations of state, after proper screening by the health teams.