The lockdown, after the outbreak of covid-19, affected every sphere of life and was a big blow to all the business sectors, and resulted with sinking economy through all over the world. Almost there is no business sector which remained unaffected due to it but business of commercial transport operators was severely hit. Since the beginning of lockdown, the transport remained off the roads everywhere. However here in Kashmir the commercial transport operators have been continuously bearing the brunt of continuous lockdown since August 5 last year_after the abrogation of article 370 and 35A. So this time the covid-19 lockdown, sprinkled salt on the wounds of commercial transport operators who already were virtually brought to starvation due to it’s effect on their livelihood. It was not only this time, but it has been happening in Kashmir since nineties, that whenever anything untoward happens, the commercial vehicle owners remain the first victims. Though the operators of goods carriers were to some extent not bad hit. Because the truck owners could somehow manage to ply their vehicles on NHW between Srinagar to other parts of the country during night hours amid frequent Hartals, (lockdowns before covid-19 lockdown) and goods carrying LMV’s could also ply through the narrow lanes of villages to make their two ends meet to some extent through difficult times.
The hardships faced by this section of business owners should be taken under consideration and authorities need to hold responsibilities to help out them, so that they could continue their business in future.
However the reality is that frequent Hartals”lockdowns” in valley have always pushed the passenger vehicle operators to wall. The livelihood of a lot of people in Kashmir, is dependent on commercial transport either directly (for owners of the vehicles) or indirectly (for those who are hired as drivers). This section of population in Kashmir often reflects their dissatisfaction with their occupation. The frequent Hartals in valley have broken their back. They always consider themselves Ill-fated and have tales to tell about the ordeal to manage their households during lockdown days. “I have pursued BA but there are PhDs roaming from piller to post for government Jobs, so I found it difficult to get a government job and decided to choose self-employment and bought a sumo to run my family, but most part of my earnings go to meet out the interests of my bank loans, a little part of my earnings is left to spend for my family,” said a sumo driver. Transporters have taken huge bank loans for their vehicles which gather huge extra-amount as interests, the vehicle owners fail to pay EMI for their already taken loans during the lockdowns. The commercial transport operators have suffered a lot all along the years of unrest in the valley. But this time they remained the worst hit, almost one year is about to pass and their vehicles are stagnantly parked the rust is biting their vehicles. The cab drivers are facing hard times, so they have switched over to other daily based temporary occupations to manage their family expense during the lengthy lockdown. Some are being seen selling vegetables and fruits even some have opted for labour work. In a society every occupation holds an importance, so does the occupation of commercial vehicle operators. They serve the people a lot, without them the life would remain incomplete. So their miseries should not go unnoticed. The hardships faced by this section of business owners should be taken under consideration and authorities need to hold responsibilities to help out them, so that they could continue their business in future.
(The author is a teacher by profession. Views are his own, email@example.com)