‘Driving In Fear’: Uber-Ola Cabbies in the Coronavirus Outbreak
Cab Mein Charcha | How are cabbies dealing with the outbreak, given that their work can’t be done from home?
Camera: Sumit Badola & Zijah Sherwani
Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Probably for the first time, we are seeing countrywide implementation of ‘work from home’ thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic. But not all have the privilege to work from home; the cabbies, for example. Their livelihood depends on driving strangers around, and since people are taking to social distancing, they say their daily earnings have plummeted by more than 50%.
Stutee Ghosh spoke to the cabbies to understand their fear, how the business is effected, how are they dealing with the situation, what they know about the virus, the precautions they are taking, etc.
“First thing is that there are no rides. I left home at eight in the morning and have only taken two rides till now. I have only earned Rs 150 and am sitting idle. Normally, I earn Rs 1,000-1,500.”Rajveer, Cab Driver
Other cabbies said the same thing about their business being affected and for a change, it was easy finding cabbies to talk to as most of them were sitting idle just waiting for a ride.
We also asked them about the fear of getting the disease and if they would consider sitting at home.
“There is fear for sure, but what option do I have? I have to earn a living to feed my family. The best I can do is take precautions.”Inderjeet, Cab Driver
Cabbies were well-informed about the precautions like washing hands frequently, not touching one’s face, using sanitizer, keeping a one-metre distance etc. Still, some did say they feel distinctly uncomfortable when a passenger coughs or sneezes.
“There was this passenger, a woman. She had a cold and she was sneezing repeatedly. I opened the windows of my car. Because I’m also at risk, right?”Rajveer, Cab Driver
We enquired about the WhatsApp forwards claiming all kinds of things to cure coronavirus: lemonade, cow dung, camphor, gau mutra, etc. But it seems none of the cabbies we spoke to are falling for fake news.
“I have kept water bottles in my car to wash my hands regularly. We should take care of our hygiene, that’s it. Other things like gau mutra, lemonade, etc are meaningless.”Praveen, Cab driver
The sad reality is that people in the unorganised sector and others like our cabbies who can’t stay at home are the most vulnerable.
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