THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:It was a year ago that C K Mohanan experienced chest pain while he was at the wheel of a packed KSRTC bus proceeding to climb the hilly highway of Thamarassery churam in Kozhikode district. Foreseeing the risk in proceeding further, he managed to park the bus in the foothills before collapsing.
He died of a massive heart attack. Mohanan’s was not an isolated case. He joins the dubious league of KSRTC drivers who have died of cardiac arrest while on duty.
The list compiled by the Kerala State Transport Employees Welfare Association (KSTEWA) says in 2015 alone around 15 drivers died on duty due to heart attack. Among the current 14,863 drivers, around 250 have undergone angioplasty or bypass surgery. Even KSRTC managing director Antony Chacko attested to the fact. “As many as 14 KSRTC drivers died of cardiac arrest while on duty, this year. About 100 drivers have undergone bypass surgery/angioplasty. But now they are fit and back to work,” he said.
“Most of the existing staff in the KSRTC were enrolled during 2000. After noticing heart ailments, the corporation could have shifted them to ground jobs but that never happened,” Haridas said.
Drivers are usually absorbed into KSRTC after medical and physical tests, he said. “If many of us have fallen prey to such diseases, it is only because of overload and lack of rest,” he added.
“Whenever a breakdown occurs, the bus has to be toed to the nearest workshop by another bus,” said a shunt KSRTC driver who has undergone bypass surgery.
It is alleged that it requires a great deal of political influence to procure ground duty.
“After having undergone bypass surgery I was supposed to impose restrictions on my job, which requires a lot of physical exertion. But I did not have the necessary influence on higher-ups to procure ground duty. Besides, I have financial problems. Hence I do not have a choice but to stick on to this job,” he said.
Dr Roney Mathew, HOD, Cardiology, Lisie Heart Institute, Kochi, said, “Patients with heart failure and poor cardiac function should be restricted from driving public transport vehicles with many lives dependent on them. It is not the angioplasty/bypass surgery that is the issue but poor cardiac function.”