Microlets are Back on Timor’s Roads – but Without the Crush

Microlets are Back on Timor’s Roads – but Without the Crush

The overloading of microlets such as this one will be banned as authorities lift some of the state of emergency restrictions (Image/Flickr - David Stanley)

DILI, 05 May 2020 (TATOLI) – Microlet drivers have resumed services, but with a new maximum of five passengers, under new “flexible” changes to the country’s state of emergency (EE) decree.

Agostinho Alberto Carlos, who drives one of Dili’s Number 10 Microlets, said he resumed service once the country’s second state of emergency period began (April 28).

No. 10 microlet driver Agostinho Alberto Carlos. (Image/Joanico de Araújo)

“We have begun microlet operations, but we are only allowed to bring a maximum of five people… [if] we have more than that, the police will remove some passengers, so we cannot go against the regulation,” the driver told TATOLI at Lecidere in Dili.

Mass transit and taxi services were suspended on March 29 when the first state of emergency came into effect. The bans were part of sweeping measures to limit crowds and the possible transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Related news: PNTL Reports Groups “Disrespecting” Emergency Decree

Mr Carlos, whose route takes him from from Tasi Tolu to Bidau, said police are conducting daily inspections to ensure drivers and assistant drivers comply with the rules.

“Inside the car, we ask the passengers to wear their masks and maintain social distance to prevent [spreading] coronavirus,” he said.

Image/Juanico de Araújo

New rules for drivers: PNTL

Armando Monteiro, Dili District Commander with Timor-Leste’s National Police (PNTL), said the government had given clearance on Monday for drivers to resume services. However, he said the services were subject to new rules, including obligations that drivers:

  • wash hands and wear masks;
  • ensure all passengers wear masks and maintain social distance while inside the vehicle;
  • provide hand-washing facilities for passengers;
  • and only park at terminal stations, if bringing passengers from the districts into Dili.
PNTL officers disinfecting a taxi in Dili last month (Image/Nelson de Sousa)

“We continue to appeal to all the citizens in Dili, our contributions and collaborations are important together we prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 to save our country and our families,”Armado Monteiro told the Journalist.

He said the PNTL would soon conduct a public awareness program to inform people of the new requirements.

Taxi drivers back on the road

Taxi driver António Kui said he has also returned his vehicle to service, after one month of state of emergency.

“I just began driving again, bringing only one passenger [at a time]. The police will not allow any more [people] than this,” he said.

Related news: Parliament Approves State of Emergency to Deal with Covid-19

Timor-Leste President Francisco Guterres Lu Olo extended the initial state of emergency until midnight on May 27, to allow the government more time to implement COVID-19 prevention measures.

Taxi driver, António Kui. (Image/Joanico de Araújo)

Since the first case was detected on March 21, 24 people are confirmed to have contracted SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. Eight people remain in isolation with the remainder having already recovered.

Mr Kui said he was happy to get his taxi back on the road, given the circumstances.

“Coronavirus makes us sad, but today and yesterday I felt happy because I can operate [my taxi], I can carry passengers again – but my revenue is reduced. I promise I will operate according to the rules in order to prevent anyone getting sick,” he said. 

Read the original Tetum version here: Mikrolete Hahú Halo Operasaun Maibé Tula Másimu Ema Na’in-Lima; Regra Sia Ba Movimentu Abitante no Transporte Públiku

Journalists: Natalino Costa, Hortencio Sanchez

Editors: Robert Baird, Julia Chatarina, Agapito dos Santos

Translation: Nelia Borges


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