People facing hardship as public transport not yet back in operation
By Sanchita Ghimire, Kathmandu - Mahesh Shrestha who lives in Harisiddhi, Lalitpur is finding it hard to travel to and from his shop at Mangalbazaar these days. Most of the time he walks to Mangalbazaar which is five kilometres from his home. Only sometimes and if he is lucky he gets lift from motorcycle and vehicle drivers.
Many do not stop their vehicle when he stops them for sharing a ride for fear of COVID-19. Shrestha said his shop like most of the other enterprises and businesses in town remained closed for long time due to the lockdown announced by the government for the prevention and control of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the lockdown has been relaxed to some extent and Shrestha has no option than opening his shop for livelihood support.
For him, a native of Harisiddhhi, the need for owning a vehicle had never been felt now than before. He had not felt this need during normal times as travelling to and fro his shop was not that difficult as adequate number of public transport vehicles operated. In this connection, he recalls his experience five years back when there was a blockade in the country. The undeclared blockade was imposed by India and there was shortage of essentials and fuel.
That time also there were no public vehicles due to fuel shortage. But people used to give a lift to the needy. But, Shrestha said, the situation is not like that at present. People are very reluctant to offer a lift and share a ride for fear of COVID-19. So, Shrestha has to walk most often to his shop and back home. Like Mahesh, Anjana Subedi of Jorpati, has the same problem. Subedi works at a private firm in Anamnagar.
She used to take the public Tuk-tuk to go to her office and come back home from there. These days she goes to her office with her husband by motorcycle. However, while returning home after office, she walks up to her husband's office at Chabahil and both return home together on motorbike.
"I have to go to office anyhow although it is difficult for there is no public transport. If I do not, my salary is deducted," she expressed her desperation. She shared that she was not paid her three months' salary since the lockdown started. The government announced a nation-wide lockdown on March 24.
Most of the shops and offices in Kathmandu Valley have opened with the relaxation of the lockdown. However, people are facing a lot of hardship in commuting to their work place and other destinations like hospitals as the public transport vehicles are not operating fully.