'There are about 8,000 day labourers in Kawran Bazar, but many of them have returned to their villages as there are no customers to serve at the market'
Day labourers in Karwan Bazar are facing significant hardship due to a lack of work opportunities in the 10-day general holiday declared by the government to enforce social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shamim, 50, is a day labourer who has been working in the Kawran Bazar kitchen market for about 20 years. He could not afford a meal yesterday night as he had only managed to earn Tk160 by 2:30pm.
“I am ashamed to say I could not afford to eat yesterday, as I earned very little. Normally, I make Tk700-800 a day, but these days I earn less than Tk200. I have never before faced such a situation while working at the kitchen market. We don’t even know if the government is going to give any aid,” Shamim said.
He said there are about 8,000 day labourers in Kawran Bazar, but many of them have returned to their villages as there are no customers to serve at the market.
Another day labourer, Razab Ali, 55, said: “I have eight members in my family and our meals depend on my income. If I can earn some money, then we can eat.”
A group of about 10 labourers were found gossiping behind the kitchen market, complaining about the lack of customers and government assistance.
Hasmat Ali, 50, said: “Because there are no vehicles on the road, I am not able to return to my village in Sirajgong. However, there is no work over there either.”
Mansur Ali, 48, lamented that cheaper restaurants had closed.
“Normally, an egg curry costs Tk35-40, but now I am having to pay Tk80-90,” he said.
Abdul Kader Sarder, an elderly day labourer, said: “We have heard from you that the government has allocated some funds for us (low income persons), but nobody has contacted us yet. We are facing severe hardship. I have never experienced this kind of situation.
“If any government help comes to us, then it would help erase some of the hardship. I urge the rich, and political representatives, to help us,” Kader added.