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London to honour transport workers who died of Covid-19

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on October 11, 2021
Supplied photo

Death of public transport drivers deeply personal, says mayor Sadiq Khan, the son of a bus driver.

Transport for London (TfL), the body responsible for transport networks in the capital, on Monday released designs for a new permanent memorial to London’s transport workers – including some of Asian origin – who lost their lives to the Covid-19 pandemic

Official estimates put the number of transport workers, including taxi and private hire drivers, who passed away after being infected by SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, at 98.

One of the deceased was Uber driver Rajesh Jayaseelan, 45, who moved to the United Kingdom (UK) from Bengaluru, India, 10 years ago: he drove to Heathrow to collect a passenger, showed symptoms soon after, and died in the Northwick Park Hospital on April 11, 2020.

TfL said the memorial will be created on a pedestrian plaza on Braham Street in Aldgate, containing a plaque paying tribute to the transport workers as well as benches to allow quiet reflection and remembrance.

A cherry blossom tree will also be planted, echoing the new public garden of blossom trees created in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to commemorate all Londoners who lost their lives to coronavirus.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I'm devastated that 98 London transport workers have died from Covid, and each and every one of them will always be in my thoughts. As the son of a bus driver, this is deeply personal to me, and I can't help but think how it could have been my dad or his colleagues or friends.”

“I hope that the new permanent memorial in the middle of our city will be a place where those that have lost loved ones will find solace and be a reminder of the heroic key workers who have made it possible for us to come through the pandemic by keeping our city moving,” he added.

Following feedback from the families of those who died of the contagion, TfL aims to submit a planning application to Tower Hamlets Council for the memorial by early 2022. Subject to approvals, the memorial is expected to be formally unveiled by summer 2022.

London's Transport Commissioner Andy Byford said: “I want to personally thank all front-line staff on our bus, Tube and rail services who kept our city moving through the dark period through which London has come, the maintenance teams who kept the network safe, the taxi and private hire drivers who helped people continue to attend hospital appointments during the pandemic and all the cleaners who ensured the network is clean and safe to use. Without you — the city could not have gotten through the pandemic.”

Several events are scheduled next week in Tower Hamlets to mark the raging Covid-19 pandemic and remember those who lost their lives to the virus.





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