Bus workers bear the brunt of lockdown | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 25, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:38 AM, April 25, 2021

Bus workers bear the brunt of lockdown

Around 8000 bus workers in Tangail are passing hard days with their families as they have been off the roads because of the countrywide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Neither the owners' association nor the government has come forward with any help for them during the lockdown, said the workers.

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"When I got down from the bus the day before the government imposed lockdown on April 13, I had a total of Tk 2,500, which had already been spent to run the family. I'm now struggling to meet my daily needs," said Saiful Islam, a bus driver.

Saiful also said that most of the bus workers are poor and do not have any savings. It has become difficult for them to maintain family when their vehicles go off the roads.

Abu Taher, a supervisor of a bus, said "We get Tk 500 to Tk 700 a day when the buses ply the roads but we are now in dire straits due to the lockdown."

Parvez Miah, helper of Dhaleswari Paribahan bus on Dhaka-Tangail route, said "Will all the problems be solved just by stopping the bus? During the last year's lockdown, I suffered a lot. I have not been able to repay the money I borrowed at that time."  

Meanwhile, the bus owners did not stand by the workers during this difficult time. The owners' association has engaged 20 workers per day to keep the buses at the terminal under watch. Each of the worker is paid Tk 300 for the job.   

Several bus owners said they are around 800 buses in the district. This year's lockdown comes as a fresh blow to transport owners because they are yet to recover the losses they have faced during the first wave of Covid-19.

They added that many of the owners are yet to repay the bank installments. So, they cannot do anything for their bus staffers despite of having good intentions.   

Seeking anonymity, a bus owner said it was possible to do something good for the workers with the money collected in the name of owners' association. But these are eaten up by the leaders.       

Abdul Latif, organising secretary of the district bus coach workers' union, said they could not do anything for the workers due to lack of funds.

Several bus workers said they did not get any benefit from the owners. As a result, they are now struggling to meet their daily needs amid the lockdown.

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