LAHORE: The sufferings of the poor ground staff working at various cricket grounds in the city of Lahore are increasing with each passing day due to the closure of the grounds and lack of any activity whatsoever in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The miseries of the ground staff began when the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) took a harsh decision of dissociating around 240 groundsmen and curators working across the country with their respective regional cricket associations. These ground staffers were getting some portion of their monthly salaries from the Board besides getting salaries from their respective regions.
Now as things stand, all the 16 regional bodies have been made defunct by the PCB following its newly amended constitution which was implemented in August 19, 2019.
Though some organisers continued working after cutting the staff strength to half, the Covid-19 pandemic has finally resulted in complete closure of the playgrounds, ending the lone source of income for the organizers to earn money which they did by renting out their grounds for the local tournaments. This situation has made it almost impossible for the organisers to bear the burden of the staff left. Some groundsmen working at the LCCA ground, while expressing their grievances, could not hold back their tears as they did not get their salaries for the month of June due to the closure of the grounds and lack of any sports activity due to Covid-19.
A spokesman of LCCA said that though the management had been paying the salaries to staff including the ground staff from its reserves, now that system has ended. “Until the resumption of activities at the grounds, the LCCA has no other source from where to pay the salaries and we feel sorry for the affected staff,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman said that the government should also consider devising specialised SOPs in order to resume sports activities as the situation is becoming bad to worse for the players, coaches, trainers, ground staff and others due to Covid-19 situation.
There are more than 30 cricket grounds available in the city of Lahore and a good number for other sports like hockey and football which are also closed due to pandemic. But as the sports community is not protesting hard enough over the situation, the government is not showing any interest to prepare SOPs for it and reopen this important sector of the society.
Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020