Covid-19 Lockdown Conundrum

The poor bear the brunt

21 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The poor bear the brunt

Kabir Ahmed Miazi, 65, was begging at Jatrabari area of the city amid the lockdown. He earned Tk 80 from morning to afternoon on Friday. Earlier, he used to earn Tk 300-500 on a normal day there. But the coronavirus hit his income hard as people didn't go out due to the pandemic, reports UNB.

Not only beggars but also cobblers, hawkers, home servants and day labourers are being affected vastly owing to lockdown in the country.

 Bangladesh government announced a lockdown from April 5-11 and extended it by one week up to April 20 due to increased Covid-19 infected cases in the country. Earlier, after the first coronavirus patient detection here on March 8, all education institutions were declared shut from March 17, 2020 in Bangladesh. The country went on general holiday from March 26 to May 30. However, the education institutions will be reopened on May 23, 2021.

 "I came to Dhaka from Chandpur in 2003. We lost all properties due to river erosion then. After coming into the city, I used to pull a rickshaw. But I am forced to beg after a sudden disease. I have been begging several years to survive with my family," he added.

 Kabir said the coronavirus hit his income hard as people don't go out following the pandemic. "I have to take medicine regularly but I can't purchase it properly due to financial crisis. I earned Tk 300-Tk 500 on a normal day but now I earn less than Tk 100 following the Coronavirus," he also added.

 He shared that the government had provided relief for the poor last year but he could not get that. "People don't give alms like prior to Covid-19 as their income came down. Lockdown has created an extra pressure for poor. We tense all times how we eat to survive if the lockdown continues. Besides, it costs Tk 1,500 as house rent in the Kajla area. Even the prices of daily essential prices are high," he also said.

 Kabir urged the government to take care of them specially to provide relief and cash properly during the lockdown period.

 Kanai Kanti, a cobbler at Sarulia bazaar told UNB his income came down 70 percent during lockdown.

 Rabia Begum, a home servant at Bangshal said her husband is a hawker. They also experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. "We came from Bogra in Dhaka several years ago. I noticed my husband can't bear my family's costs. So, I started to work as a servant in student's messes. Unfortunately, I lost the job due to shut education institutions. Now we are passing difficult times due to lockdown," she added.

 According to the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Bangladesh's national poverty rate went up to 35 percent in 2020 from 24.3 percent in 2016 due to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.