The life of Robi, a worker of Pabna to Narayanganj-bound Sea Line Paribahan, came to a grinding halt after the government enforced a lockdown on 5 April in a bid to check the spread of coronavirus.
Usually, he would attend 13-15 trips per month, but after the lockdown was imposed, he has not been getting any work. It will be impossible for him to bear the expenses of his five-member family if the lockdown continues for a lengthy period.
Like Robi, thousands of transport workers in the country are in a dire situation since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent lockdown has worsened it.
"I have not earned any money since 3 April as my last trip was on 2 April. I have to wait for at least two weeks to get another trip. And if the lockdown extends, my fate will be uncertain. I do not know how I would manage the expenses for my family," Robi told The Business Standard.
"I took a big loan last year because the scope for work shrank as the number of trips reduced amid the pandemic. I do not know how I will survive if the situation becomes like the one we went through last year," he added.
According to the Bangladesh Sarak Paribahan Sramik Federation (BSPSF), there are 70 lakh transport workers in the country.
Sadikur Rahman Hiru, vice-president of the BSPSF, told TBS that the transport workers have been facing tremendous problems because of the sudden imposition of lockdown. Twenty-five lakh transport workers have lost their jobs and are passing through a severe financial crisis.
"The government should take a decision to help the transport workers as they are the most vulnerable victims of the recent crisis. Everything is going on but buses. It is an unexpected and wrong decision of the government," he said.
"We held a meeting with the divisional leaders of the BSPSF and asked everyone to help the jobless workers. We had distributed relief to the workers last year. We will do the same this year too," Hiru added.
There are over 46 lakh registered vehicles including buses, trucks, motorcycles, CNG-driven auto-rickshaws, microbuses, and minibuses in the country, sources in the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority said.
The CNG-driven auto-rickshaws, microbuses, private cars and buses can operate inside the cities amid the lockdown
The CNG-driven auto-rickshaws, microbuses, private cars and buses can operate inside the cities amid the lockdown.
Rafikul Islam, a driver from Pabna working at Sea Line Paribahan, told TBS that he is passing very idle time in his village home during the lockdown and further extension of it will put him in a tough situation.
"I have learnt driving to earn my livelihood. It is very painful for me if I miss even a single trip. I made 20 trips in a month before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, but now I can make a maximum of 14 trips per month which is not adequate for me," he said.
The motorcycle drivers who are operating under ridesharing services are also in a crisis as the government banned ridesharing during the countrywide lockdown.
Al Amin, a ridesharing driver, came from Patuakhali in January 2020 and bought a motorcycle by taking loans. He planned to assist his family with his income from the ridesharing services, but he is still struggling to pay off the installments for the motorcycle. The new lockdown has worsened Al Amin's condition.
"I will have to work for extra time to make up the losses caused by the recent lockdown. It will be very tough to fulfill my dream if the lockdown is extended further," he said.