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School vans left immobile, pullers in distress

Published : 02 Sep 2021 10:01 PM | Updated : 03 Sep 2021 01:09 AM

Educational activities in the country are ongoing through remote learning amid pandemic blues. However, school vans, providing transport services to a large number of school goers, are left immobile and pullers are in dire straits.

In the capital Dhaka, many parents themselves cannot manage to take their kids to schools. Such less affluent parents rely on school vans for their children to go and get back from schools.

For classroom doors still remain locked after the Covid-19 shock made every sphere of educational institutions close in March, last year, students, especially children, no longer have to board on the vans. This stagnation has led the pullers into a somewhat wretched life.

Losing their regular jobs, most of them have been trying their lucks in the capital seeking different means of livelihood, mostly pulling rickshaws and working as day labourers.

After the previous work come to a standstill, income of many working in other alternatives has come down to merely one third. Earlier they used to earn Tk 25,000- Tk 30,000 per month but now they are finding it difficult to earn Tk 10-12 thousand.

Among them, some are unable to repay their piled up loans, after somehow paying the house rent and food expenses. Therefore, they have lost hope of living.

Such is a puller named Md Chunnu Miah, who used to pull his van named ‘Shawon Paribahan’ from Shyamoli-Kallyanpur area to Monipur High School, main branch. Having his beloved vehicle left aside at a garage near Baitur Rowshan Jame Masjid, where he currently resides, he now is counting days for the schools to reopen.

While talking to this reporter he said, “I have a family of four members. It’s been quite difficult for us to survive these months since the schools were announced closed.”

“I have been a day labourer, a street vegetable seller, a hawker and even a rickshaw-puller. I had to do whatever I could whenever, to feed the hungers in my family.”

When asked if the school authority or the guardians have come forward to help him, he said his elder son is an eighth grader at Monipur High School. When sought for financial stimuli from the school authority in the early days of this year, they waived an amount from the tuition fee of his son. Since then, nothing more has come up.

Meanwhile, many have left Dhaka to their village homes being unable to afford to live in the costly metropolitan.

Md Abdus Salam, a puller of Faysal Paribahan, plying in Mirpur to Mirpur Bangla Higher Secondary School, left the capital in October, last year.

Seeing his van left like it’s in a dump yard in Mirpur-12, this reporter contacted him over the phone.

Md Abdus Salam told Bangladesh Post, “I have three vans, of those I used to pull one myself. But, as the schools are closed, I have my van left immobile.”

“It’s impossible for me to earn my livelihood in the capital Dhaka. Therefore, I chose to get back to Mymensingh, my ancestral home. I have already been in huge debt. I don’t know how to pay them back if the wheels of my vans don’t start rolling soon.”

However, most of these van pullers have told they want the schools to reopen soon so that they could get back to their old job and recuperate from the pandemic shock.

In the meantime, a few of the affluent guardians have helped the pullers as much as they could have. But, that is not much to change their poverty stricken plight due to the Corona pandemic.