High bus thresholds heightening health problems in Kashmir

Ovais Gora/Umar Hayat

SRINAGAR

The height of first step from the ground in public transport buses in Kashmir seems to pose health effect to passengers. The decade’s old model buses have first step height more than two feet which is instrumental in deteriorating the musculoskeletal systems and aggravates pain of knees and shoulders due to forceful exertions while embarking and disembarking on to these buses.

As per the new guidelines issued by the ministry of urban development, the maximum height of first step from the ground should not be more than 400mm (16 inches) and second step not more than 250mm (10 inches) in public transport. But KMD (Kashmir motor department) buses plying between suburbs are giving inconvenient ride to already suffering patients.

Passengers are either been pulled from inside or pushed from outside to embark onto the bus. Administration appears to be in slumber and is not even thinking of attaching extra detachable step from outside to minimize health hazards and accidents.

It is almost impossible for elderly persons to get on to the bus without assistance. Even young persons are not feeling it convenient to step at such height at one go. “I seldom ride in this bus as it is difficult for me to climb at such height with ease,” said an elderly person, Abdul Ahad Mir at Batmaloo bus stand.

Saida, 34, a mother of two, said, “The height is more than two feet and apprehension about injuries always hovers in case of kids as I have to either hang my wards till they touches the ground or I first get down then help my kids to bring down.”

“Surely, Kashmir has a plight public transport, the very threshold of the bus is very high and it is not fare enough for elderly, school going kids and those who are suffering form joint related problems to get on or disembark from the bus,” said a visitors at Batmaloo while who were returning from Gulmarg resort through KMT bus.

Dr Abid Bashir, Registrar Bone and Joint Hospital, Barzulla said pull elbow (dislocation of the elbow which is the result of the lower arm slipping out of its normal position at the elbow joint), frozen shoulder (stiffness, pain, and limited range of movement in shoulder) are common cases due to height factor.

“Parents often hang their wards while disembarking the bus which could lead to pull elbow and elderly passengers who board onto these buses have to exert more force in order to balance their weight which could further aggravate frozen shoulder,” he said.

Persons suffering from repetitive strain injury (injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions) and osteoporosis (fragileness in bone) complications find it difficult as excruciating pain hampers their movement to tackle such height, Dr Bashir said, “and it increases the risk of falling with aging and leads to fractures of the wrist, spine, and hip.”

Long queues could be seen outside the Bone and Joint Hospital, Srinagar where large number of such patients requires better, health friendly and convenient public transport system.

Abdul Razak, 55, from North Kashmir’s Baramulla district, suffering for Osteoporosis said, “Low floor buses (8 inches) from the ground are everywhere other than Jammu and Kashmir.” And unfortunately, he continued, we have poor transport system, “It is miserable, but authorities don’t seem in a mood to arrest this menace.”

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