Rickshaw drivers in debt post pandemic
Post pandemic, auto rickshaw drivers in Pune are earning less. Some might have killed themselves due to debt, say drivers.
Pune: Auto Rickshaw Drivers are facing issues post Covid-19 pandemic in Pune. As the public is still afraid to travel by auto rickshaw, the daily earnings of the drivers have become very less. They are unable to earn profit and are going into loss.
The Aam Admi Rickshaw Sanghthan, Pune said “We sent letters to government officials to help drivers, but there is no reply from them. In Pune five rickshaw drives committed suicide because of loan and depression. One of the drivers who committed suicide has Rs 2.5 lakh debts and his wife is pregnant. If the government announces a second lockdown we will not keep quiet. We will protest against this. Our people will die of Covid-19 but they don’t want to die of hunger.”
The auto rickshaw drivers say they wait long hours for passengers. Their income has decreased by 90 percent and their livelihood has been affected. They don’t have money to pay their children’s school fees.
“We do not get any passengers, we need to wait for four to five hours before anyone hires us.
Everyone is getting help from the government, we are also paying tax, then why aren’t we getting any help? We are in such situation where we might commit suicide,” says rickshaw driver Mahesh.
The rickshaw drivers said that in the last two months 10 to -12 rickshaw drivers have committed suicide because of loan and depression.
“We hardly earn around Rs 300-400 a day. How should we take care of loans for the rickshaw , school fees for our children or our family?” says rickshaw driver Atul Dhotre.
Urban Planner Vivek Pai told us “Rickshaw service is not public nor completely private. They are autonomous in their own way. Nobody is there to save them, union leaders are extremely corrupt. They are quite alone. The drivers should come together and form a unit to help themselves. Or the NGOs or private equity can come together to help them.”