How to plan a large scale road movement of passengers
This is a question that I've been asked in the field so I wanted to share it with everyone on KnowledgePoint
I need to move several hundred displaced people about 250 km, probably using hired buses. What should I take into account in planning the movement?
There are a large number of considerations depending on your precise circumstances. Except in a dire emergency when the movement has to be immediate for life-saving reason, good planning is essential and will save a lot of muddle, inconvenience and time wasting later. The follow is best practice and is drawn from considerable experience. Even then, everything will probably take longer than you think, so plan to start your travel day early. (It is not advisable to travel by road at night, even if it is cooler.)
How good are the buses available to hire? Check them over including spare tyres, and inspect the drivers’ licences and the passenger insurance documents.
Do the IDPs have a lot of luggage/domestic goods? Baggage is safer inside a truck than tossed onto the top of a bus, especially if it is wet or dusty. And you may find that it will not all fit underneath a high sided coach. So consider hiring some trucks to carry this. The IDP’s baggage may be all that they own and it must be treated with respect; you will need to brief the loaders carefully, or ask the IDPs themselves to assist in the loading, with the driver’s supervision and advice on safe loading/stacking within the truck. You will save time on the day if you load the baggage the night before and then park the trucks overnight in a safe place, but the baggage owners may be reluctant to agree to this. They will anyway need to keep aside what they will need on the journey, e.g. babies’ nappies. Baggage should be labelled with a name or reference number (you can write with a felt pen on strips of adhesive “masking tape” stuck to each item).
Do they have any livestock? You may need extra vehicles (trucks) for the smaller animals: goats, sheep and the like (on ropes and with labels). (Pigs are very messy and should be discouraged; if it is essential, place them in waterproof sacks tied around their heads with their noses sticking out so they can breath.) Chickens, duck and rabbits should be placed in labelled cardboard boxes, preferably on a different truck to the sheep and goats. Larger animals (cows, horses, camels) will probably need to be walked by a family member in an escorted group, then special provisions need to be made en route as it will take several days: food, water, safe overnight stopping places.
You may need to run more than one convoy. It takes a surprising amount of time to check people onto buses, and even more time to load baggage onto trucks. 300 passengers at a time is a good working figure. Also you do not want too long a convoy in terms of the total number of vehicles (which will depend on the size of your buses and the number of additional trucks) including escort vehicles: do not exceed 20 in total. If the roads are dusty the convoy will ... (more)
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