Extension of lockdown causing anxiety among low income earners

Low income earners specially rickshawpullers and drivers of three wheelers have been passing an anxious time as the government on Monday announced a fresh countrywide lockdown from April 22.

They have been living hand to mouth as their income has decreased following a countrywide strict lockdown began from April 14, they said.

Though countrywide strict restrictions have been enforced for the sixth consecutive day on Monday, large number of rickshaws and three wheelers were seen plying the city streets alongside other private vehicles.

Police were seen stopping vehicles setting up a number of checkposts at different points of the streets.

Visiting Mirpur Road, Banani, Mohakhali and Badda Progoti Sarani Road, the same picture of anxious rickshaws and auto-rickshaw was seen in the city.

Rickshawpullers have been running on the main streets defying police obstruction as they do not get sufficient passengers in their respective locality.

Bulbul, a 30-year-old rickshaw-puller, was waiting for passengers near bus stand of Merul Badda. When asked about his daily income during current strict lockdown, he said he could earn Tk 600-700 daily before the current strict lockdown began from April 14. But now he has been earning only Tk 200-300 daily.

"As a large number of people are staying home due to the lockdown, I have to ply rickshaw on the main streets but do not get sufficient passengers," he said.

Extension of lockdown causing anxiety among low income earners

"I have to send money to my village home, where my family members are living, through mobile banking everyday but I did not send money for last five days due to lack of enough income," he said, adding that “My family members have to live without food if current lockdown extended further."

Sowrab, 25, another rickshawpuller of Badda area, said he has been running motor-run rickshsaw for last one year and his daily income was Tk 900-1200 but now he can earn Tk 300-400 daily.

"I have to send Tk1000-1600 every week for my father, who is staying in village home of Faridpur. But I did not send any amount this week for very poor income. Now my income has reduced so much that it is not enough for my daily expenditure,” he said.

He would need government relief if this situation continues further, Sowrab added.

Amanullah, 60, a CNG driver, who was waiting at Mirpur-12 bus stand for passengers, said he has to pay Tk 500 for rent of his three-wheeler. He earned only Tk 500 each day in last three days. “So my earning was zero for last three days,” he said.

Replying to a question he said, if this situation is continuing, his family have to live without food. Government should start distributing relief material for low income people like them, he added.

As the government has announced for fresh countrywide lockdown from April 22, auto-ricskaw and light vehicles workers demanded direct food and financial support from the government to survive in the all-out lockdown that has been extended until April 28.

In a joint statement, president and secretary of Bangladesh Auto-rickshaw Light Vehicle Transport Workers Federation , Abul Hossain and Md Gulam Faruk, both said the operation of lakhs of three wheelers and light vehicles has been suspended due to the lockdown.

As Covid-19 infection rate was alarmingly rising in March, the government enforced an apparently loose countrywide lockdown for one week from April 5 as part of its move to contain its spread. Later, it enforced strictly countrywide lockdown for seven days from April 14.

As the rate of infection has not been contained and the number of deaths kept increasing, the Government has announced a fresh countrywide lockdown from April 22-28.

Source: United News of Bangladesh