Since the coronavirus pandemic began, 90 percent of tea sellers in the Rajshahi metropolis have seen a drop in their income, while 40 percent of tea stalls have closed, according to survey findings.
The study found that there are about 2,000 small-large and mobile tea stalls in the Rajshahi City area, and 40 percent of them have gradually closed down since the pandemic began.
Everyone who is currently doing business has expressed frustration as most of their earnings have dropped by more than half.
Amirul Islam, a tea seller at Lakshmipur junction, said, "I used to open the shop at 6am before Corona, now there are barely any people so I open late."
After staying completely closed for the first few days of the lockdown, Amirul had no choice but to open the shop to support his family.
Ramzan Ali from the Railgate Bindur junction area said, "Despite the fact that there are more people in the market now, they are all panicked, and so the business isn't good like before."
"Before the pandemic, I used to earn Tk500/600 daily, but now it is becoming difficult to earn even tk200/300," he added.
Sukumar of the city's co-operative market said that with educational institutions staying closed and fewer people hanging out after dusk, the income is very low.
Karim, a mobile tea seller, said, "I used to earn Tk200/250 every day, but now I can't even manage to earn Tk50/100."
Rural and Urban Development Organisation (RUDO) and the Ladies Organisation for Social Welfare (LOFS) jointly surveyed 250 tea stalls in the Rajshahi City area under the "Amrai Pari" Project.
Volunteers from Rudo & Lofs directly surveyed 250 tea stalls and obtained information through conversations with the owners and employees of about 500 tea stalls.
The survey was led by Tamanna Islam, program officer of Rudo, and Tumpa Pal, community organiser of Lofs.
The Director of Rudo, Sohag Ali said, "Due to all the institutions being closed for a prolonged period, all businesses including tea stalls have collapsed. Having about 40 percent of the tea stalls closed is quite alarming. If this continues, there will be more unemployed people and as a result, crime rates will rise alongside."
Shahnaz Parveen, executive director of Lofs, said "The pandemic has undoubtedly affected public life, and it has hit the low-income population the most."
She said that even though the government has continued its efforts to save the country from this crisis by formulating various facilities, it is not enough.
"The tea vendors in the Rajshahi City area are undoubtedly low-income people, whose families depend on this business for their livelihood. So it is necessary to think whether any opportunity can be created for them centrally," she added.