The clean shaven face of Azizur Rahman, dressed in jeans and T-shirt with a smartphone in his hand, clearly shows that he is new to the job of rickshaw pulling.
He came to Dhaka from Jamalpur three years ago after his SSC examinations for a job to help his humble family with their expenses. He started working at a plastic company in Old Dhaka with a monthly salary of Tk14,000 but lost his job due to the pandemic.
"The factory owner laid us off without paying any salary for seven months. I was unemployed for a long time and became a rickshaw puller to support my parents and younger siblings. But my family doesn't know that I am a rickshaw puller in Dhaka. They would be very sad if they came to know that," Azizul told The Business Standard.
Like Azizul, hundreds of thousands of people in transport, tourism, services and other sectors have lost jobs. Though the government pledged to give support to them, experts say that is not enough.
During a survey of 2,675 low-income people between 31 March and 5 April in 64 districts, Brac found that extreme poverty had increased by 60% in the pandemic. Around 14% of the people did not have any food at home and many had to change their profession just to survive.
"About one crore low-income people have been affected by the pandemic and if the lockdown continues like this, the number will increase day by day. The government should help at least one crore people by giving them Tk2,000 per month in cash support for one year through mobile banking," said Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute.
Mahfuzur Rahman, 30, used to work in a buying house with a salary of Tk12,000 a month. He lost his job in March this year and started pulling a rickshaw like Azizur.
"I have to pay Tk4,000 a month for house rent. I used to send money to my children and elderly parents living in the village, but now I am pulling a rickshaw to earn some money and survive."
Russell Ahmed worked for a rice warehouse in Narayanganj with a salary of Tk15,000. He lost his job too during the first lockdown imposed last year and moved to his village home in Barisal.
He got a job at a grocery store in Dhaka three months ago. Russell became unemployed again when the store owner's business went down amid the lingering pandemic.
Then he borrowed Tk50,000 at a high interest rate and started selling mangoes and vegetables from a cart in the Hatirpool area of Dhaka.
"I am selling vegetables on the streets as I have no other way to survive. The business is not going well since sales are poor. I have to pay a high amount as interest against my loan and do not have enough money to pay house rent in Dhaka and send money to the family in the village," Russel said.
Many people like Russel have come to the capital in search of new jobs after losing their source of income. Some have begun selling tea, cigarettes, or masks on the streets, while many have become rickshaw pullers.
One of them is Shakibur Rahman, 22, from Noakhali. He worked as a waiter at a restaurant in Chittagong city but lost the job in the first wave of the pandemic. Shakibur then worked for some time as an assistant to a mason in his village home in Noakhali.
Losing job for the second time, he came to Dhaka and started pulling a rickshaw and living with his cousin in an Adabar slum.
The government allocated Tk760 crore to help day laborers, rickshaw or van drivers, motor workers, construction workers, newspaper hawkers, hotel workers and others who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Ahsan H Mansur said the government's incentive was not enough as the money was very little given the number of those who had become unemployed.
Saima Haque Bidisha, professor of economics, Dhaka University, told The Business Standard that a majority of those who had lost jobs were low-income people.
"The government should compel companies, which have been given incentives, not to lay off any workers. Other organisations, which have not got any incentives, should be given money immediately, so they can pay their workers," she said.
The government should also impose a Covid tax on high income people to help those who are struggling to survive, Bidisha added.