RJ Asha from Radio Active 90.4 MHz talks to Jayalakshmi, a cab driver from Go Pink, Bengaluru’s women-only cab service, about the hardships drivers face during lockdown.
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Jayalakshmi ferries passengers to and from the Kempegowda International Airport through Go Pink, Bengaluru’s women-only cab service. The sudden implementation of the nationwide lockdown had taken her by surprise. Cab drivers across the city were unprepared for this and are now finding themselves in deep financial trouble, she says.
Employees of the IT/BT sector have the privilege of working from home and getting paid, but workers like Jayalakshmi are left in the lurch. Cab drivers-cum-owners are unable to pay the EMIs on their vehicles. It is disheartening that government has not waived off interests on the EMIs of these cabs, Jayalakshmi says.
The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) has provided ration and a few other essentials to cab drivers who provide services to and from the airport. But there has been no government support for cab drivers in general, who can be considered as daily wage labourers. Financial constraints have even driven a few drivers to attempt suicide, Jayalakshmi says.
Jayalakshmi is also Vice President of the women’s wing of Namma Chalakara Trade Union. This union has around 9000 members, 25 of whom are women. The union includes members from services like Ola, Uber, as well as auto drivers.
K Somashekhar, President of the union, had even distributed ration with his own money for drivers in dire circumstances. The union has relayed its concerns to the government multiple times, but there’s been no action yet.
Jayalakshmi believes that distributing Rs 5000 each to cab drivers would help ease their difficulties now. She urges drivers to reach out for help and brace themselves for the challenges that are to come once the lockdown is lifted.
[Compiled by Deeksha Sudhindra]