The widow of one of at least five London bus drivers or workers feared to have died from coronavirus today paid tribute to him as a “hero on the frontline”.
Nadir Nur, 48, who drove a No 394 from a depot in Hackney, died in hospital on Thursday, leaving a 10-month-old daughter Sahra and two other children.
Wife Bishara Maye, 23, today said she was “heartbroken”, adding: “Nadir was a hero on the frontline helping healthcare workers to hospitals. He was a loving kind, caring, helpful person who everybody loved. Bus drivers must have more protection or more families will lose their loved ones. Safety must come first.”
Mr Nur’s death follows official confirmation that five bus drivers or workers have died so far amid claims, that were yet to be verified, that another three have also lost their lives. The Unite union responded today by calling for further action to limit the numbers using buses, including the possible introduction of certificates for travellers to show that their journey is necessary.
There have also been calls for passengers to be told to use only the middle or back doors of buses so they can avoid passing the driver and for only vehicles with protective screens to be used.
Mr Nur’s bereaved wife told how her husband had continued to work despite being fearful. She said: “He started coughing and had symptoms and was admitted to hospital. He said he had been worried about going to work and the lack of protection and the number of people on the bus and now he has died,” she said.
Another bus driver, 33, from east London, speaking anonymously, said he and others were now scared of going to work. “I’m due back at work tomorrow and it’s a scary situation, the fact so many colleagues have lost their lives,” he said. “My wife is pregnant with our first child due in June and my family are really worried.”
Peter Kavanagh, general secretary of Unite, said: “Bus drivers come to work because nurses, care workers, delivery drivers need to get to their place of work. They need to know that everything has to be done for their safety. We have to go further and faster.”
Bus operator Metroline confirmed three members of staff had died during the pandemic, including Paul Aheto, a controller at its Willesden garage. A spokesman said: “We are devastated by this loss and we offer our support and condolences to the families at this incredibly difficult time. The safety of our employees has always been our priority and we continue to do everything we can to make sure our workforce is as protected and as safe as possible.”
Claire Mann, Transport for London’s director of bus operations, said: “We have been extremely saddened to hear of the recent passing of our colleagues in the bus industry.
“The safety of our staff and customers is our absolute priority and we have been working closely with the bus companies, the Mayor and Unite to implement a range of changes and improvements to keep the bus network and garages safe for those operating and using it, in accordance with Public Health England advice.”
Former world boxing champion Nigel Benn was today mourning his brother Mark. London-born Benn, 56, revealed his loss on Instagram last night. Benn, who is one of seven siblings, wrote: “My brother Mark passed Away 2day (Covid 19), as we all were growing up Mark was the Joker of the Benn household.”