Balaore: Workers belonging to the private bus association in the district, who are struggling to make ends meet during the lockdown, have demanded financial assistance and provisions from the government for their family as their livelihood is at risk.
Like last year, the second wave of coronavirus pandemic has hit the operations of private bus operators in the State this year too pushing lives of hundreds of workers including drivers, conductors, helpers and cleaners into a state of despair.
More than 1000 workers have lost their jobs as the Covid-19 and eventual lockdown brought the operation of public transportation to a standstill.
“The first wave of the coronavirus had hit hard the private bus workers and this year too, the workers are struggling to make their ends meet. Last year, we had requested the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Transport Minister to provide some compensation to the workers. We had also staged dharna in front of the office of Transport Commissioner. But no one had come to our rescue,” said Raj Kishore Lenka, General Secretary, Odisha Motor Transport Workers’ Union..
“We are also facing the same situation due to this lockdown that disrupted public transportation. We are reeling under acute poverty. We requested the government to pay at least Rs 7500 per month as compensation and 10 kg rice per head to every private bus workers,” he added.
A conductor of a private bus operator said “we had spent many days with empty stomach as our livelihood was hit by the pandemic induced lockdown and shutdown last year. This time too, our income has been reduced to zero as busses stayed off the road due to lockdown. How can we maintain our family? The government should extend some financial assistance to arrange alternatives for us during a time of crisis.”
Neither the government nor the owners are bothered about our plight. “If the government turned a blind eye to our request we would take to the streets in coming days,” another worker said.
Many of the workers are in search of substitute ways of sustenance and making efforts to switch to other sectors for a living.
According to reports, over 1200 workers are bearing the brunt of pandemic as around hundred private buses which were plying on different routes in the State have stood off the road in the district.