Using tongs, toll operators blow-dry notes before placing them in registersUpdated: Apr 29, 2020 23:10 IST
At Kherki Daula toll plaza, which reopened after three weeks on April 20, booth operators are blow-drying cash bills to ward off the coronavirus. The toll plaza is fumigated every day and the booth operators have been told to follow safe distancing norms while interacting with commuters.
Commuters passing through the toll plaza cannot pay the booth operators directly anymore. They place the cash in a plastic tray placed for the purpose. At present, six canopy lanes are operational at the toll plaza.
The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) had shut all toll plazas in the country from March 25 to April 19, following which it opened up with relaxations issued by the Centre.
Anish John, systems manager, Millennium City Expressway Private Limited (MCEPL), the concessionaire, said, “With the outbreak of coronavirus disease, toll operators are afraid to take cash from commuters. We have devised a plan where the toll booth operators hand over a small plastic tray from inside their booth to the commuter sitting inside the car.”
The booth operators have been trained to use tongs to pick up the bills from the tray. “After the cash is picked up from the tray, all notes are held in front of a heat blower for a minute and only then kept inside the cash register,” said John.
Officials of the toll plaza are disinfecting the cash bags daily. The project head of Kherki Daula toll plaza, Rajendera Bhati, said, “We are spraying steam with the help of an iron inside the cash bags so that they are disinfected.”
The toll officials also said that everyone entering the toll plaza office at Kherki Daula is being checked with infrared thermometers.
“When we restarted toll operations on April 20, all toll booth operators were given masks, gloves, caps and we have trained them to remain at a safe distance from commuters. We are disinfecting the entire toll plaza every single day, including every toll booth and the operators too,” said Bhati.
Toll officials said that about 20 toll booth operators are working presently in three shifts.
As per the data released by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for April 27, FASTag traffic amounted to 32% whereas commuters paying through cash was 25%, electronic payment amounted to 0.6%, while 31% were emergency exempted vehicles while 12% were exempted vehicles of villagers in the vicinity.
MCEPL officials said that during the lockdown, the sale of FASTags at the toll plaza has come down to zero. “With lockdown in place, the sale of FASTag has come down considerably at the toll plaza. There are no bank officials who are selling FASTags anymore,” said John.
On April 18, the NHAI had come out with operating procedures and guidelines for protecting workers at toll plazas. The NHAI has instructed toll officials to use their own transport. “Wherever possible workers should travel to the toll plaza alone using their own transport. Parking arrangements for additional cars should be made (sic),” read the guidelines.
The highways authority has instructed that all non-essential visitors should be stopped. Not only this, but the guidelines also say that there should be a restriction on the number of people using toilet facilities one at a time. “All manpower on the toll plaza shall use masks/gloves and goggles for their own protection. Mass sanitisation of toll plaza through spray may be done at regular intervals (sic),” read the guidelines.