NEW DELHI: When 66-year-old Chandrika Ram’s vision began to blur, he thought best to ignore it. Within a few months, he began to see halos around lights while driving. It was then that this driver of a dumper truck realised there was something seriously wrong with his eyes.
In the last 40 years, he had gotten an eye test done only once. His salary of `8,000 per month does not allow him the luxury to visit an ophthalmologist. On discussing his concerns with a fellow trucker, he was informed about Delhi-based Sightsavers India’s eye health camp near Lal Quan, Chapraula, Ghaziabad.
Ram was diagnosed with cataract and referred to Sightsavers’ partner hospital. A free-of-cost surgery later, he continues to ferry fish from Odisha’s Paradip port to various parts of the country.
Raahi, a national truckers’ programme launched by Sightsavers, is targeting five million Indian truck drivers in 25 locations across the golden quadrilateral and aims to reduce the number of road accidents. Through eye health camps, they send out optometrists and vision technicians along busy highways, junctions, inter-city roads, transport nagars, markets, as well as sparsely populated areas.
“As per the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways statistics, in 2015, motorised vehicles accounted for 95.5 per cent of the total road accidents. Vehicles including trucks, tempos, tractors, and the like accounted for almost 20 per cent of the accidents injuring 92,174 and killing 37,458,” says RN Mohanty, CEO of Sightsavers India.
Long-term measures have also been put in place. These include reaching out to these men through informative educational material and follow-up calls. “Sightsavers will have a database of those who come to the camps.
Each driver will have a bar code and identity card, which will help in recording their history,” says Mohanty, who hopes that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will disseminate Raahi’s information on various platforms and provide them with venues. He also suggests to the government that a Sightsavers certificate may be used during driver license renewal process.
Need to Tread Carefully
India is home to 9 mn truckers and transporters
95.5% of the road accidents in 2015 were due to motorised vehicles
1.2 mn deaths and up to 50 mn injuries worldwide due to road accidents
Date: Sept 22
Venue: Near Lal Quan, Chapraula, Ghaziabad
Time: 9 am to 1.30 pm