THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Don’t be surprised if you see an autorickshaw plying in the city equipped with a hand-wash facility. Meet Suresh Kumar M, an autorickshaw driver who is ensuring his passengers wash their hands with soap before boarding the vehicle. Suresh has a four-inch-diametre PVC pipe with a tap attached to his auto. He turns on the tap himself for passengers to wash their hands, reducing the chances of contamination.
The auto is also equipped with hand sanitiser for passengers boarding and alighting the vehicle. Suresh is also taking precautions such as wearing masks and gloves while at work. He, and his team of auto drivers in the Pallimukku auto stand are doing their bit to ease the travel difficulties of the patients during the lockdown. He has been running the service along with 20 fellow drivers under a trust named ‘Janamaithri Auto Drivers’ Koottayma’. The group offers free pick-up and drop-off services to the hospitals for patients across the city at any time of the day.
“As per rules, we are allowed to take only one passenger and up to three passengers if they are from the same family. Mostly, I get hospital-bound or railway station rides. There is an increased chance of getting the virus, so with this hand wash setup, I intend to keep my passengers and myself safe. I usually take rides from 5.30am to 8pm but the time is flexible depending on the emergency,” says Suresh.
He says: “The drivers who are part of the Janamaithri group are aged between 23 and 65. So, ensuring their safety is also necessary.”As part of practising social distancing, Suresh has also planned to compartmentalise his vehicle with a shield separating the driver and passengers. “Presently, only my vehicle has a handwashing facility. I am planning to make this facility available in all Janamaithri autorickshaws.”