Countrywide shutdown to curb the Covid-19 spread leaves transport workers without job
Transport workers in the port city of Chattogram are going through hardship as their income has been hit hard by the suspension of road communication since March 26 amid countrywide shutdown to check spread of coronavirus.
Workers say they are struggling to feed their families while house rent, tuition fees of their children and extra expenses in April just ahead of Ramadan only add to their worries.
The extension of government-announced general holidays to April 11 from April 4 has also extended their sufferings.
Public transports ply 68 routes in the country from Chattogram. All involved in the service have remained without job since March 26.
"The number of the jobless workers will be nearly one lakh though transportation of goods and food items remains out of the shutdown purview," said Mohammad Musa, Chattogram unit president of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation.
Musa says most of his colleagues work on daily payment basis.
Green Line Paribahan bus driver Sohel Rana, who used to make trips on Chattogram-Cox's Bazar route, said he was not getting his monthly salary.
Rather, the transport owners would now pay them based on how many trips they made daily. Sohel said the drivers contacted the bus owner over payment soon after the shutdown.
"The owners have told us that they cannot pay us a single penny if the vehicles do not operate. Where will we go now with our families," he cried.
Another driver Delwar Hosen said he did not think the owners would help them. Besides, he said, there was no scope for them to get a loan during the crisis.
"The workers are constantly calling us for help. I even do not have a word to console them," said Chattogram auto workers' leader Harunur Rashid.
Chattogram Intercity Bus Owners Association said drivers and helpers got paid from the earnings of daily trips.
"We are yet to decide whether the workers will get any financial assistance in this crisis period," said the association General Secretary, Kafil Uddin.
However, port city mini-bus and human hauler owners' association said the owners were incurring losses during the shutdown.
"Therefore, the workers will not get paid during the situation," the association President, Abdur Rahim, said.
Chattogram Prime Mover Trailers Workers Union says delivery of imported goods from Chattogram port has also been hampered due to the ongoing shutdown.
Nearly 7,000 prime movers with more than 14,000 workers transport goods from the port to different parts of the country.
Nearly 10,000 workers of the sector turned jobless since the shutdown began on March 26, said the union Chattogram chapter President Main Uddin.