As the nation began to see a gradual easing of movement restrictions yesterday, commuters returning to work and using Keke were pleasantly surprised to see protective partitions erected between the rider and passengers, in a number of localities across Lagos state where these vehicles are plying. The partition, developed by the Simba Group and called the Simba Safety Shield, is a transparent acrylic sheet, which serves to protect riders and passengers from one another during the commute.
As seen in several parts of the country, tricycles have proved increasingly popular since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, due to their inherent advantages for social distancing including a low number of passengers, as well as open cross ventilation through the vehicles. This follows guidance issued both by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, as well as various State Governments limiting the number of people riding Keke to three persons (driver plus two passengers) at any given time.
The national head for Simba TVS, distributors of TVS branded tricycles, Mr Mahendra Pratap said: “We are grateful to our engineering team for developing this truly home-grown innovative solution in a short period of time. This is a first of its kind safety accessory, and we have started to scale the production seeing the tremendous response we have got in just one day. We are grateful also to the Keke riders, who play such a vital role in the nation’s transport infrastructure, and are happy that this innovative product is serving its purpose.”
A public health practitioner and leading health advocate, Lola James said that: “As the health sector takes prominence in the frontline defence against this virus, its wonderful to see these sorts of innovations at the backend, which are likely to help reduce the spread. The Keke's are already safer since they carry fewer passengers. This safety shield forms an additional barrier of protection.”
As the need to start moving from point to point gradually returns, it is imperative that we find modes of public transport that are as safe as possible and for now, the tricycle, especially with these shields, seem to be amongst the top choices.