Lockdown eats up income of day labourers
Labourers say they sit all day looking for work. They have to go home empty-handed at the end of the day.
- Labourers sell different types of labour for Tk500 to Tk700 per day
- There is no work due to lockdown
- Distressed people can seek assistance by calling 333
- Labourers gather in different places of the capital before sunrise to find work
Mohammad Azad has been returning home empty-handed from Khilgaon labour market after searching for work for 15 days.
"I have not gotten any work since the first day of the lockdown. I am passing my days taking loans from others and purchasing goods from local shops with credits. I do not have meals every day. I could not even pay the house rent this month," said Azad.
Like him, about 150 workers are sitting idle in Khilgaon. However, the situation of day labourers is the same all over the capital.
On Monday, during the visits to various labour markets in the capital, The Business Standard found that some labourers were sitting with bags, some with spades in their hands, some with buckets. They sell different types of labour for Tk500 to Tk700.
The labor market sits in different places of the capital including Jatrabari intersection, Nayabazar at Sutrapur, Bangshal, Postagola, Magbazar, Motijheel, Hatirpul intersection, Under the foot overbridges of Mirpur-10 and 1, the roadside at Mirpur-14, Nakhalpara railgate, Panthapath signal, Azimpur, BDR gate before sunrise.
Mohammad Hanif, a worker in Moghbazar, said "I have been looking for work here for 30 years. I used to get work here every day. In the last seven days, I got Tk1200 by working only two days. What can I do with this money? Should I buy food for myself or send it to my family?"
There are 150 more workers in Moghbazar. All of them are passing through the same situation, he added.
Hanif who works as a mason, carpenter and laborer has been in a job crisis since the beginning of the lockdown.
He said, "We have somehow survived having one meal per day. If the government does not help us in this crisis, when will it happen? We have nothing but tears."
Hanif, who has five family members in Patuakhali, said he took a loan of Tk80,000 from a local NGO to run his family. He is supposed to repay the money in monthly installments of Tk10,000. But he can't repay the installment as he has no income.
They are not getting work due to closure of sanitary, paint, sand and cement stores during lockdown, he said.
Saiful Islam, who sat next to Hanif, said, "On the one hand, we are not getting any work and on the other hand, we are not able to go to the villages thanks to the closure of public transport due to the lockdown."
Day laborer Abdul Quddus said they sit all day looking for work. At the end of the day they go home empty-handed.
"Landlords, contractors are not able to come to hire us because of the lockdown. All are shut down. After a while, the police come to chase us," he added.
Abdul Quddus lives in a room of a tin-shed house in Moghbazar with four people. But they can't pay Tk4,000 rent for eight months.
"We can't eat every day as there is no work. How can we pay house rent?"says Abdul Quddus
There will be 100 labourers sitting here; none has come to hire them. And if one comes, 25 labourers try to get the work, he added.
Talking to director general of Department of Disaster Management Atiqul Haque, he told The Business Standard distressed people can seek assistance by calling helpline 333. Assistance or food items will be provided through the local people's representative and government officials concerned after completing some procedure.