A day in the life of an old rickshaw-puller amid C-19
An ailing 67-year-old rickshaw puller Suruj Ali fell off his rickshaw in front of Bangladesh Bank at midday on Tuesday.
Down with fever the previous night he braved the scorching sun the next morning as he was only the earning source of his family.
He was bleeding from his forehead lying unconscious on the road as most of the people pretended that they didn't see him. But another rickshaw puller belonging to his class came to his rescue.
As his face was sprinkled with some water Suruj Ali opened his eyes. He said he had been feeling unwell since last night.
He had nothing to do but to wake up to paddle his rickshaw on the streets of the city to feed his family members.
He came to Kamalapur hoping to get some passengers, he said while talking to this correspondent.
Suruj Ali lives near the city's Sayadabad Water Pump alone while his wife Fatema Banu and three daughters live in his village home of Muzaffarpur under Kendua police station of Netrakona district.
Talking to the Daily Observer, Suruj Ali said his family members completely depend on his income and so he cannot think of a day without work even during this coronavirus pandemic.
He said the number of passengers had drastically dropped in the city fearing
corona infection. "I earn only about Tk300-350 but earlier I used to earn Tk1, 000 or even more per day. I have to pay Tk200 to the owner and can keep the rest," he said giving a blank look.
Suraj Ali was taken to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital with the help of another rickshaw puller.
This is not a single story of Suraj Ali, thousands of people like Suraj Ali are being forced to do such hard works when they are supposed to receive some assistance and have a comfortable life along with other members of their family.
But the reality is quite different as many of them are out of the government's safety net programmes,
When asked if he applied for old age allowance from the government he said the selection of beneficiaries depend on local political leaders. I applied with a hope to get at least Tk1000 monthly but unfortunately we were not part of the list," he said while sobbing.
However, the old age allowance includes the age group of 62 years and older for women and 65 years and older for men. They government pays Tk500 per month to over 4 million beneficiaries across the country.
While talking to the Daily Observer, eminent human rights activist advocate Sara Hossain said the most deserving elderly men and women must be included in this Safety Net Programme and there must be a monitoring team to supervise it.
"We have to find out the most elderly people to be brought under this Safety Net Programme so that these people would not come out to do such hard works for their bread and butter," she said.