Mozambique: Rebuilding of 15,000 homes destroyed by 2019 cyclone to start in H2 2022
Photo: André Catueira / Lusa
Disinfection of hands with water and chlorine at the door of public transport has become mandatory at the bus terminals in Chimoio, central Mozambique, but overcrowding remians fertile ground for the transmission of the new coronavirus.
The ‘semi-collectives’ – light vehicles, crowded with people – are the main form of transport in the provincial capitals.
“The numbers are a little tricky,” local transport agent Mendes Liquita admits to Lusa, arguing that overcrowding is necessary to cover operating expenses.
Liquita recognizes that disinfecting hands at the terminals is ineffective, especially for minibuses carrying more passengers than their actual capacity, and suggests that, ideally, the authorities should spray the vehicles themselves.
Plastic buckets with improvised taps have been distributed by the authorities to urban, inter-district and interprovincial bus terminals, but sometimes they lack either water or chlorine.
“Some passengers don’t want to wash their hands, saying that they have their own disinfectants,” says Farai Francisco, a ‘passenger raiser’.
“We force them out of the vehicle, and they can only get back on after washing their hands,” he adds.
Auria Pácoa is amazed when she notices that she is travelling with 19 other people in a minibus with a recommended capacity of 15.
There won’t be an inch, let alone the one metre of social distance recommended by health authorities to prevent the transmission of the new coronavirus.
“I feel bad, but there is no other way, because I need to travel,” she tells Lusa, already inside the minibus and looking visibly uncomfortable at being pressed upon on all four sides.
Aida da Conceição, another passenger, says the conditions are “the worst”.
“We are told to wash our hands, but then we have to sit on damaged seats” in a confined space where “the windows do not open”.
According to him, these conditions show that “the country is not prepared to face this disease”.
Mozambique has eight registered cases of Covid-19: six imported and two local transmissions, with no deaths.
The death toll in Africa has risen to at least 152, with 4,871 infected people in 46 countries, according to the latest pandemic statistics released by the African Union’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
The coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic has already infected more than 750,000 people worldwide, of whom more than 36,000 have died.
At least 148,500 of those infected are considered cured.
Since emerging in China in December, the virus has spread worldwide, prompting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare a pandemic situation.
Europe, with more than 413,000 infected and 26,500-plus deceased, is currently the epicentre of the pandemic, with Italy worst affected – 11,591 dead among the 101,739 confirmed cases, to date.