AS AUTO drivers received some respite after the government allowed public conveyance to ply, the autos that came out early on Monday morning decided to go back late noon as they received almost no rides the whole day.
Ram Dayal (35) had come to Panchkula from Uttar Pradesh almost 14 years back after getting married, to earn a better living and make a life in the suburban area. As he stepped out of his rented room in Sector 21 after more than 50 days, he was happy and excited to stop depending on the local officials for ration and begin working again.
“I reached my regular spot at Manimajra housing board sharp at 8 am but was scolded by the police officers on duty, and returned. Almost no movement was being allowed between Chandigarh and Panchkula. I decided to stand at the Sector 18 roundabout in Panchkula. Others stood there too,” he said. Haryana has sealed its borders with neighbouring states in view of the outbreak.
With only one ride to his name today, he decided to head home around 2 pm. “I stood all day but did not receive even a single ride. The only one that came wanted me to drop them nearby, so I did. I earned Rs 20 today,” he said, worried about how he will feed his family of four- a wife and two school going daughters.
Ramesh (42), another auto driver is hopeful that passengers will start coming once the lockdown ends. “There is nobody on the roads today. It will be so for another two weeks but the lockdown cannot go for long and the customers will have to come on roads. Not all have personal vehicles, they will need our services then. We will also become essential,” he said. He is one of the few people from his colony in Majri village who have stayed to wait for the lockdown to end.
“I am scared of contracting the virus and passing it on to my ailing wife. I keep my mask and a small bottle of sanitizer that I made at home with Dettol handy and keep using it. I will also make sure the persons who sit next to me keep their masks on,” he said about contracting the virus. He has also made his Paytm account with the help of his son and added that he will encourage passengers to pay him via online transactions.
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