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Covid-19 initiated Economic Crisis heading towards critical situations for daily wage workers

Uncertainty of the situation things will turn unimaginable if it continues for a long time.What will be the future of the workers who are living in hunger and are afraid of starving to death.Will government take any actions for supporting their life?
Rickshaw pullers, Omnath Pathak. Photo Courtesy: N24 staff

By N24 Staff Writer, KATHMANDU:- A buzzing, visitor-friendly area, Thamel is the city’s main nightlife zone. Bars blast out live music by cover bands, and lively eateries serve Nepalese and international dishes.

Thamel which is full of tourists and locals even at night is now becoming deserted. Due to the global spread of Covid-19, only a small number of locals are seen. Similarly, all kinds of businesses have gone through an economic crisis due to coronavirus which has a major impact on the daily lives of rickshaw pullers. Before the lockdown, there were 700 rickshaw pullers but now only 150.

Omnath Pathak has been driving rickshaw for the past 38 years. Under normal circumstances, the daily income was Rs.400 to 500, but now it is very tough to earn money to pay the rent of the room. Before lockdown, his life was running smoothly, but now he has to go hungry due to the non-operation of rickshaws. It has become difficult to make a living.

Similarly, other rickshaw pullers, Surman Tamang from Naxal, Kathmandu said right now it is getting more difficulties to survive as now I have been staying in my rickshaw day and night for a couple of months. Before lockdown, I used to live in at Naxal rented room but unfortunately, the room owner didn’t allow me to stay there because during Lockdown I went to Thankot to work there but there also I didn’t get payment. So, for that, I came back to work again. 

He added people are also not ready to sit on rickshaw because of Covid-19 so for that reason also we don’t even earn money to eat a one-time meal a day.

Swotantra Rickshaw pullers Cooperation’s Secretary Bikash Pariyar, a local resident of Koldhara, Paknajol had been driving rickshaw for 5 years. “It is very tough to survive people like us as we have been facing a financial crisis and also having difficulties to fulfill the basic needs. And we are not able to pay the rent of the room. Before lockdown, we used to earn rs.1000-1200 per day but now to earn rs.100 is tough.” said Pariyar. 

He added, we have been demanding for gash (Food) and bash (shelter) with the government, also talk with Municipality but we are not getting any response, G-phone response positive to support us. While talking to a local government they asked for the registered organization of rickshaw puller. Unfortunately, we are not registered yet. We were going through laborious during lockdown we united to form an organization in this Covid-19 pandemic.

Rickshaw pullers are slowly losing their hope towards the government, we have to pay rs. 150 charge to rickshaw owner per day and there is no income right now. But some of the owners had given a discount on the charge. Along with that some of the pullers are compelled to sleep in rickshaw and street too. And we want our demands to be fulfilled.

Swotantra Rickshaw pullers Cooperation’s Chairman Krishna Bahadur Bishwokarma said, “There is more fear of starvation than coronavirus”, Despite the initiative of the President, the rickshaw pullers have not been able to get relief yet. 

He added, as we don’t have any optional skill rather than driving rickshaw, we are in great trouble now. If the demands are not fulfilled then we will have to knock the door of court and human rights office and we will even come out on the road.

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