Highlighting their daily struggle to make ends meet, autorickshaw and taxi drivers in Bengaluru are trying different ways to get authorities to address their concerns as lockdown measures continue in the city due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A group of drivers has written to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa seeking financial assistance and an exclusive relief scheme for their survival.
There is also an online campaign run by Ola, Uber and TaxiforSure drivers and Owners Association in protest of alleged government apathy. Drivers have been posting pictures of themselves holding empty vessels wearing a black headband.
“Through this campaign, we are indicating that we have nothing left to even feed our families. Even though it has been over a month and a half since the lockdown was put in place, the Karnataka government has not addressed our issues of survival,” Tanveer Pasha, president of the association, said.
“We have heard that the cab drivers in Delhi have been offered a one-time aid of Rs 5,000. Similar news has come from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Kerala too. While we pay huge taxes to the governments, our cries are left unanswered,” Ravi Kumar, a cab driver said.
Meanwhile, the Auto Wing of the Karnataka unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wrote to CM Yediyurappa requesting the state government to intervene in the matter.
“There are about 1.5 lakh autorickshaw drivers, 1 lakh autorickshaw mechanics and 85,000 cab drivers in Bengaluru alone. Most of them have loans from banks and private financiers and are returning the loans in monthly instalments. Now they have no jobs but they have to continue to pay their loan instalments,” the letter read.
Ayub Khan, Karnataka president of the AAP’s Auto Wing further pointed out that the government “should take responsibility to address the huge problem of the suddenly-halted jobs and income”.
“The state government should implement measures to provide financial assistance to them. Otherwise, the condition of these people will only worsen,” he added.
Further, the drivers’ wing demanded that groceries be distributed to workers via autorickshaw drivers’ associations and the government should warn banks and private finance companies not to pressure borrowers for EMI payments if it was not possible for them to do so.
“A committee should be constituted under an elected representative. A permanent list of all categories of drivers should be prepared. The police department and RTO departments should work in coordination for this (relief and grievance redressal) work,” Khan suggested.
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