Rickshaw pullers, three-wheeler drivers struggling to make both ends meet

Rickshaw pullers, three-wheeler drivers struggling to make both ends meet

A rickshaw-puller sits idle on a hot Sunday afternoon as there’s no customer. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Neeraj Bagga

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 2

The income of rickshaw pullers and auto drivers has drastically come down due to the weekend lockdown and daily imposition of curfew from 6 pm. They said they were struggling hard to make both ends meet in these extremely tough circumstances.

Yog Raj, a rickshaw puller, says they wait for customers amid scorching heat as very few people are out. “Customers prefer going out in the evening, but all of us have to return home around 5:30 pm. Our visibility on roads after 6 pm will immediately earn the ire of constables’ batons.” In this situation, he returns home with a meagre earning.

“These days we are taking home only Rs100 or Rs120 every day, which is not enough. Many of us do not even own rickshaws, so we hire one on rent for Rs30 per day. Hence, we have to shell out that amount as well from our daily earnings, which hardly leaves anything for us,” he said.

Gurmukh Singh, a 43-year-old three-wheeler driver, said; “There are already limited customers out on roads. This is the longest dry season for three-wheeler and rickshaw pullers, which started from the lockdown imposed in March last year. This lean season is continuing for us. Unlocking of the lockdown may have provided relief to other professions, but not for these two labour-oriented professions.”

Giving reason, he pointed out that all educational institutes whether schools and colleges, continue to remain closed. A big chunk of customers come from these. Those with paying capacity are not ready to share and those who are ready to travel are reluctant to pay increased tariff. This, despite the fact that the diesel rate is extremely high. It has become difficult to arrange even two square meals a day after paying EMIs of financed autos, filling fuel and maintenance cost, he rues.

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