Plight of daily-wage workersLabourers in Kathmandu have been hit hard due to the ongoing lockdown which entered 71st day on Tuesday.
Daily-wage labourers in the Capital have been hit hard by the ongoing lockdown which was enforced by the government over two months ago, on March 24, in a bid to control the spread of Covid-19.
The lockdown has resulted in loss of jobs.
The labourers are finding it hard to survive. Some were fortunate enough to receive relief materials provided by the government, but many others could not due to various factors. The government has now stopped relief distribution also.
Post photographer Hemanta Shrestha walked around the city and talked to some of those who are struggling to make their ends meet.
Tej Bahadur Shrestha
Tej Bahadur Shrestha, 57, of Lakhpur, Ramachhap, currently residing in Ason, Kathmandu, used to run a small eatery near Ratna Park. He has been running the business for about 12 years now.
Since the lockdown began, Shrestha’s business has been closed and with his wife’s health issues, he is now working as a porter to earn a living.
Shrestha, who has received till date only 10kgs of rice as relief from the government, is now worried, as he has no money. “There is nowhere else for us to go. We need strength to carry heavy loads and money to survive,” said Shrestha. “The lockdown has left us with nothing. I don’t know if the disease will kill us or not, but hunger surely will,” said Shrestha.
Hem Kumar Karki
Forty-six-year-old Hem Kumar Karki of Dolakha, a father of three, used to earn around Rs15,000-Rs20,000 a month before the lockdown. Karki used to drive a rickshaw to carry goods. He has been living in Mahalaxmisthan for about 10 years now.
After the lockdown, his source of income has dried up.
Karki is one of those who didn’t get any government relief as his landlord failed to provide the photocopy of his (landlord’s) citizenship and a receipt of tax payment of the house.
However, he was somehow able to secure around 10 kg of rice and pulses. But for a family of four, the food didn’t last long. Now, he borrows food on credit from nearby shops.
Karki gets out of his rented room almost daily to find some work but to no avail.
“I can’t think of anything else to do to provide for my family.”
Akal Bahadur Moktan
Makawanpur’s Akal Bahadur Moktan, 48, used to sell potato crackers and dalmoth, a savory dry snack made from fried lentils, nuts, spices, that he prepared at his home.
With the lockdown in effect, Moktan’s business, the only source of income for his family of five, is now in tatters as he is losing his investment because there are no buyers for his product.
“I make some money if someone places an order,” said Moktan. “The ongoing lockdown is killing us.”
Around 15 year ago, Lalkala Sunar, 48, came to Kathmandu from Bardiya in hopes of earning a living.
Before the nationwide lockdown, Sunar used to run a small shop near Bhadrakali temple with her husband.
Now with no business, Sunar has not been able to pay the rent for three months. To add to her woes, she went through a lot of trouble to get the government provided relief-- 5kg rice.
“I have started selling some fruits in the Basantapur area to earn some money,” she said. “But there is no business anywhere no matter what we do.”
Gopal Bishwakrama of Kailali came to Kathmandu some 27 years ago. He is currently living in Lagantol with his family of six and operates a manual rickshaw that he has leased from its owner.
Fed up of staying inside his home and with depleting finances, Bishwakarma takes out his rickshaw in search of customers.
“Even if the disease kills me, I wish not to die due to hunger and instead of living in fear and hunger I go out to work and try to earn some for my family,” says Bishwakarma, who was only able to get the government provided relief once.
He earns Rs 200 daily by riding a rickshaw and out of that earning, he hands over Rs100 to the owner.
Bhim Bahadur Syangtang
Since the government enforced the nationwide lockdown, Bhim Bahadur Syangtang, 53, a bus driver by profession, has made the vehicle he used to drive his home.
A permanent resident of Gotikhel, Lalitpur, Syangtang says he doesn’t want to go to his hometown for the fear of being kept in quarantine. The food that was being distributed until a few days ago has now stopped.
“The owner of the bus says he will bring rice but there is no place to cook,” said Syangtang. “On some days, I go to sleep without eating. Now I have started working as a porter to earn a living.”
Syangtang is waiting for the lockdown to end so that he could return to his same old work.