‘Extraordinary demand’ sees bus company unable to supply drivers with hand sanitiser

PUBLISHED: 16:04 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:21 16 March 2020

Extraordinary demand has meant First Eastern Counties has been unable to provide hand gel to drivers. Picture: Archant

Extraordinary demand has meant First Eastern Counties has been unable to provide hand gel to drivers. Picture: Archant


“Extraordinary demand” has prevented the region’s largest bus company from providing its drivers with hand sanitiser.

In its coronavirus advice package to passengers on its website First Buses has indicated that it will be making hand sanitisers available to all of its drivers - particularly those who handle loose change.

However, colossal demand for the products has meant that an order the company made for hand gel is yet to be fulfilled and it therefore has been unable to supply its drivers directly.

Steve Wickers, managing director for First Eastern Counties, said: “We, along with many other businesses across the city and county are awaiting delivery of hand sanitiser due to the extraordinary demand

“We are continuing to encourage our staff and customers to follow government advice on hand hygiene and want to reassure people that there is no greater risk of infection from coronavirus when using bus services than in any other public spaces.”

First Eastern Counties managing director Steve Wickers Photo by Simon FinlayFirst Eastern Counties managing director Steve Wickers Photo by Simon Finlay

“However, this is clearly a dynamic situation, which we are monitoring closely while planning for a range of scenarios including changes to current Government guidance or policy.”

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But a bus driver, who did not wish to be named, was critical of the fact the message was posted before the delivery had been made.

They said: “There has been no mention of supplying us with hand gel. I know almost two weeks ago Konect drivers were issued with two bottles each. As far as First is concerned they have done very little. It is completely wrong and misleading to tell the public on their website they have done it.

“Not only as a driver are we put at risk but it puts members of the public at risk. We are handling change and vulnerable people take the bus.”

But Mr Wickers said as soon as the delivery was made the gels would be distributed, as promised - and that the company had “under no circumstances intended to misinform our staff or customers wishing to use public transport in Norwich”.

“Our website states ‘Where drivers handle cash, we are making hand sanitizer products available to them’. This is a true statement and we are, as soon as we receive the order that is overdue for delivery from our supplier.”

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