Adjusting rail operations in the face of the coronavirus

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020 00:00 |
John Mungai, a senior assistant train driver at Afristar, inside one of the trains at the Nairobi SGR terminal. Photo/COURTESY

What does your job entail?

I am an assistant freight train locomotive driver. My job entails driving the SGR freight trains. 

How different are your daily duties during the Covid-19 pandemic compared to ‘normal’ work duties prior to the pandemic?

Afristar has provided accommodation on company premises during the pandemic period.

We are required to wear face masks at all times while also observing social distancing. Disinfection is being carried out on a daily basis, in our living quarters and also in the locomotive before we start work. 

Are there any positive attributes due to the change of work routine?

Hygiene has been highly emphasised. Residing at the company premises is convenient due to government directive on movement and night curfew.

How do you protect yourself from the coronavirus while at work?

I always wear a face mask and I make sure my work area has been disinfected. I also wash my hands with soap and running water on regular basis.

What Covid-19 prevention measures have been put in place by your department? 

The department has provided face masks for every employee, hand washing soap and disinfectant too. Information about Covid-19 has been in abundance.

 Are there measures to ensure the goods being transported on SGR do not contaminate the equipment and persons who come into contact with them? 

Yes. This is being done by ensuring disinfection is carried out on a regular basis on the trains and all the surfaces that come into contact with the cargo.

Have you faced any challenges in implementing these directives? 

No. The company has ensured the directives have been fully implemented. 

Are your colleagues observing the guidelines issued? 

Yes. All my colleagues wear face masks at all times and we routinely wash our hands. We’re also observing social distancing.

What are some of the work-related challenges you are faced with due to the coronavirus pandemic?

Movement has been restricted to avoid one contracting and spreading to others. But the company has provided accommodation and meals on company premises during this period.

The night curfew has not affected freight locomotive tasks in any way since we’re in operation 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

 Has your workload reduced and if so, how have you readjusted? 

The workload has increased as some staff took leave during the Covid-19 pandemic as a safety measure. I have adapted to the situation since our line of work requires us to be flexible.

How supportive is your employer in terms of providing solutions to any emerging issues related to the coronavirus?

Our employer has followed government directives and has made all employees aware of epidemic prevention information.

This has been done through health education to increase personal protection skills and emergency skills.

In addition, the company ensures we have limited contact with people from outside the company as a social distancing measure. 

Do you fear for your job should the current situation prolong?

This is the situation everywhere around the globe; the entire world’s economy has been affected. I am not focusing on that.

Finally, What sort of personal sacrifices are you making due to the Covid-19?

 I have willingly sacrificed my freedom of movement, personal space and family time.

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