BATKHELA: Street vendors and daily-wage workers are found to be defying the lockdown enforced by the administration to stem the outbreak of coronavirus in Malakand district.

They complain that though they’ve stepped out to earn a livelihood for families, the Levies and police personnel send them away.

The vendors told Dawn that as the government had yet to provide them with relief goods, they’d no option but to leave houses to sell fruits, vegetables and other items on the streets and bazaars of Batkhela, Dargai, Sakhakot, Thana and other areas.

They said the lockdown imposed around two weeks ago had made life miserable for them.

The vendors said they tried their best to evade law-enforcement personnel on the streets.

Masons, carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, mechanics and drivers also claim that they’re worst hit by the lockdown.

They demanded of the government to ensure the supply of food packages to them and other poor people on their doorstep and warned that if that didn’t happen, they would defy restriction on the movement.

Abdul Hameed, a plumber, said he worked in houses, most of them were under construction, on daily wages to feed a family of five but the closure of shops and unavailability of material had troubled him.

Mohammad Kamal, a coach driver, said the transport ban had rendered thousands of drivers out of work.

He said he was distressed for using all the cash he’d in the last two weeks, while shopkeepers had refused to lend him essential items.

“We know that the lockdown was enforced to protect us from the deadly virus but at the same time, the state should realise its responsibility to provide us with food and other essential items,” he said.

The driver also urged the rich people and elected representatives to help the needy people.

Mohammad Ilyas, a news agent, said newspaper hawkers faced tough times under the current circumstances.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2020



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