Peruvian mototaxis, an unsuspected ally in the fight against Covid-19

By Carla Samon Ros

Lima, May 19 (EFE).- Mototaxis, the light three-wheeled motorized vehicles known as “tuk-tuk” in Thailand or “chand gari” in Pakistan, have proven to be a great asset in support of Peru’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

By the entrance of Cuartel Barbones, a sports complex turned vaccination centre in the El Agustino district of Lima, the flow of mototaxis is never-ending as they drop off residents from remote areas of the city.

Mototaxi driver Esteban Delgado steps out of his vehicle to help 94-year-old Fe Palacios off the car and onto a wheelchair held by her daughter, Sixta.

As they walk into the premises for Fe’s second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Delgado is quick to announce “Car leaving, papito!,” his daily motto to attract potential clients leaving the vaccination centre.

“I take them home and help them get off the taxi,” the experienced driver tells Efe. “Considering they are seniors, we have to be careful with bumps on the road.”

The small vehicle, of Asian origin but ever-present all over Peruvian cities, is much more than a medium to reach vaccination centres. It is also one of the only means of sending vaccines to older people living atop the country’s mountains, many of whom unable to make the journey down to the city.

“We have implemented home visits, because we have many vulnerable older people with disabilities, living alone and unable to travel,” says Johana Idelfonso, head of immunization strategy in the East Lima region.

Aboard the motorized tricycles, troops of medical workers make the trip every week or fortnight, with refrigerators hanging from their shoulders and uniformed with Covid-19 protective equipment.

Once in the heights of the mountain, which are riddled with makeshift homes, the medical professionals enter Amauta, a small settlement where facemasks are a rarity.

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