Plights of thousands of day labourers of Rajshahi has been intensified since the starting of the menace of the Coronavirus and the lockdown imposed by local administration in the district for over a year.
By defying the lockdown, hundreds of day labourers are seen to arrive in various city intersections from various neighboring villages by peddling bicycles in search of work early in the morning daily. By keeping their bicycles in rows, they sat beside the road in search of work. Those who require day labourers for their work hired the labourers from the spots. Such a scene is seen early in the morning daily at Railgate, Talaimari, Luxmipur crossing and at the Kasiadanga intersection.
Even during the enforcement of all out lockdowns in Rajshahi from last June-11 aiming to control Coronavirus situation and due to an increased number of Corona patients daily, the day labourers are seen to visit and sit beside the roads at the city corners regularly. Even a week after the enforcement of the lockdown on Sunday (20 June) morning, several hundred day labourers were seen to throng the city corners in search of work by risking their lives. Those who require day labourers for the construction or other works visit the city intersections and hire the day labourers. Some of these labourers are provided with work while others return home without getting any work.
At Talaimari intersection at 8-00 am morning of June-24 (Thursday), a person arrived and hired 15 labourers. By procuring the address of the person, 15 labourers left the place by peddling the bicycles while some more were waiting at the spot for more people to come and hire them.
The day labourers were waiting in the morning sunshine. Day labourerRaihan Ali (40) of Joypur village under Puthia upazila said with utter disappointment, “The weather is nice today but we are not getting any work. We'll need to go back home. He added there was scarcity of work due to Corona nowadays but without work, they cannot maintain the family”.
That is why he further said, “We do not think about the Corona furthermore. To survive, we need work”. The distance from Talaimari crossing to Joypur is nine kilometers. He arrived at Talamari intersection daily morning by peddling bicycles. If he is provided with work by any person, he works from 9-00 am to 5-00 pm daily and earns Taka 500. After the work, he again peddles back to his village.
He informed, he could manage four to five days of work in a week. He said he feels bad during returning home without getting any work. His wife and children also turn disappointed. It is hard to repay back the loan and to purchase daily food like rice, pulse and spices, he added.
Another worker Monirul (35) of village Islampur under Charghat upazila said,' We cannot maintain our family by fearing the Corona. That is why we come here daily in search of work. But, even after waiting for an hour, no one has so far arrived to hire us for any work. It seems that we have to return home empty handed even today. While returning home without getting any work, we cannot peddle the bicycle in tiredness but while we return with money after the work, we can peddle the bicycle with joy.'
Day labourer Jabbar Ali was waiting for work at the rail gate area on Thursday morning. He said, during last week's lockdown, police charged them with batons and they returned home without attending to work. But, today no police were seen to resist them from entering the rail gate area. He added, “Police get their salaries every month but we have no way to survive without any work”.
15 to 20 day labourers were also seen waiting at Luxmipur crossing in the morning. Labourer Qurban Ali said, “We have no money to survive that is why we peddle daily to the city centres in search of work by risking our lives amid the Coronavirus pandemic. But, today we also seem to go back home without any work. Moreover, the police were charging batons on us and were forcing us to go back home. How we would survive with our family with the innocent children without getting any work”, added Qurban in an emotion choked voice.