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Coronavirus: around 30% of STIB staff out sick

Until late March, STIB could not guarantee that buses were thoroughly disinfected before being put back into service. © Belga

High rates of absenteeism due to sickness have been reported within Brussels’ public transport company, as mobility authorities confirmed that thorough disinfection of its vehicles was not the norm until early April.

Figures unveiled in the regional parliament by Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt show that up to 26% of STIB’s bus drivers and 27% of technical staffers are on sick leave, Bruzz reports.

Van den Brandt also said that, until early April, the company had not been able to guarantee the thorough disinfection of buses before they were put back into service.

“Until the end of March, it could not be guaranteed that a bus going back to the depot would be completely disinfected before another driver left with it,” she said. “This has been the case since 1 April, all buses are clean when they leave the depot.”

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The numbers come as commuter traffic decreases to around 10-15% of the usual numbers, with a large number of employers and companies in the capital keeping staff at home.

While STIB has downscaled operations to adapt to the reduced traffic, it has also increased the frequency of some lines in order to facilitate social-distancing.

Due to a low availability of protective equipment, such as face masks, the supplies were given with priority to staff working in conditions where it was difficult to ensure the recommended 1.5 metres of distancing.

Additionally, Van den Brandt said that the public transport company had since chosen to outsource cleaning and disinfection of its vehicles to provide back-up to its own cleaning teams.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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