CHENNAI: The onset of summer has increased demand for water across the city. However, with novel coronavirus on the prowl, the drivers and helpers of many private water tankers as well as some residents are apprehensive. The main issue is, according to some residents, lack of protective gear for lorry crew who have to interact with residents of multiple localities.
Though only 60% of the entire fleet of 1,500 private lorries is currently plying due to decreased demand, the crew travel far and wide and interact with a plethora of people. They extract water from villages near Poonamallee, Chengalpattu, and Tiruvallur.
“Nowadays masks are hardly available. We have asked the crew to use clean handkerchiefs as a substitute. We have strongly advised them not to venture out without wearing one,” said Nijalingam N, President of TN Private Water Tanker Lorry Owners Association.But residents of some apartments are doing their bit. “We give drivers and helpers sanitiser before they enter our apartment to fill the sumps. We also make sure they wear masks when they step inside. Interaction is also kept to a minimum,” said Harsha Koda, a resident of Shollinganallur.
Lorry owners association said it would be of great help if the government or NGOs donated cloth masks for the crew. On the other hand, Metro Water Board has provided full body suits, gloves and masks to all its drivers, those managing treatment plants and pumping stations. We consider our workers as frontline warriors who need to be fully protected, said an official.