Clean sweep for cabbies
When his main areas of business were hit by the fallout from government-imposed coronavirus containment measures, an innovative P.J. Wright decided to start a new company, Mint Cleaners, and take with him employees from his flagging ventures.
Mint was contracted by the Ministry of Transport and Mining to sanitise the interior and exterior of hundreds of taxis in Half-Way Tree, Kingston, yesterday.
As he watched his employees at work, Wright told The Gleaner that when his other businesses started experiencing declines, he could not have allowed his staff to go home with no income.
“My main thing is entertainment and restaurant, but that get knock, so instead of having my team at home, I tell them I going to find something else for them to do. That is what this is,” Wright shared, pointing to Smiley, a delivery man-turned-germ buster who was clad in a white protective suit and face shield.
Almost four hours after their 6 a.m. start, Wright’s team had already sanitised about 150 vehicles.
He said that the cab drivers were very receptive after getting a lecture on the safety of the products being used on their vehicles. The chemicals are dispersed by mist blowers to limit saturation of upholstery.
“Sometimes people may be apprehensive of someone going into their vehicle and spraying chemicals. We explained to them the make-up of the chemicals and that it is safe for touch and the amount we use is just enough to fight the virus without saturating materials,” said Wright, who noted that even passengers have themselves been encouraging the drivers to take advantage of the free clean-up.
“Loader men have been helping us by telling them that they must go and do it. That is what I like to see because this virus is a selfish virus. If you are selfish, you will continue spread it.”
Wright, who recommended sanitisation be done at least once per week, urged Jamaicans in other parts of the island to create similar businesses.
Cabbie Jerome Lewis was fully supportive of the initiative, admitting that he doesn’t always get a chance to sanitise his vehicle before launching out on his route.
President of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services, Egeton Newman, said it cost approximately $300 daily for each taxi operator to properly sanitise vehicles. He thanked the transport ministry for footing the bill for the clean-up drive.
Newman also appealed to taxi operators to adhere to social-distancing protocols of travelling below capacity as well as the wearing of masks in public.
“Most of these drivers are not sanitising themselves and are not wearing the masks. They don’t understand the seriousness of this pandemic, so we are hoping other groups will join in across the island and do the same thing.”