Without any work since March 26, most hawkers in the capital have been experiencing miserable days for lack of food
The nationwide shutdown enforced to halt the spread of coronavirus has left around 10 lakh street hawkers across the country in dire situations.
Without any work since March 26, most hawkers in the capital have been experiencing miserable days for lack of food. Many are starving, and cursing their fates.
They have claimed that they have not been provided with any relief yet from the government during this trying times.
Jashim Uddin, a street hawker in Gulistan area used to sell mobile phone accessories worth around Tk3,000-4,000 a day and made a daily profit of Tk700-1,200 before the shutdown.
He is losing out on the profit each day due to the shutdown and currently left with no savings to meet necessary needs such as food and rent.
When asked, Jashim has told Dhaka Tribune that no one from the city corporation gave him any relief.
Another street hawker named Ripon Hossain, a physically disabled person who used to sell Attar and Tajbih in front of the Baitul Mukarram Mosque at Purana Paltan, was seen wandering around for alms to feed his children.
“We earn like daily labourers, with my little shop closed for around a month I have no money and food for the past couple of days. My 18 months old baby is currently surviving only on plain bread and water,” Ripon told Dhaka Tribune.
He said a neighbour provided him 6kg rice along with other food items during the shutdown while police gave him 3kg rice and some other food items. But neither was sufficient enough for his five-member family, a helpless Ripon added.
The free-food helped his family survive only for a week, he added.
“Situations have never been this bad in my 26 years life in the city, and I do not know what is coming next,” he added.
There are around 10 lakh hawkers across the country, of which 4 lakh are in Dhaka city, according to Bangladesh Hawkers Union.
There was no mention of hawkers in the incentives announced by the government, said the union President Abdul Hashim Kabir.
The sector was facing a monthly loss of around Tk2,000 crore due to the shutdown as the streets are deserted now, he added.
He said many street hawkers were seeking financial assistance from the union, but the union did not have any fund to help them out.
The union demanded non-refundable government incentive including a weekly rationing scheme for millions of hawkers till the end of the shutdown.