Jamshedpur, June 3: Back on road after more than two months of lockdown on Tuesday, autorickshaw drivers in the city were seen openly flouting social distancing norms and plying more than the permissible limit of passengers.
According to the guidelines issued by the administration, only two passengers can travel in an auto-rickshaw at a time apart from the driver but most autos were seen plying over four passengers at one time. The drivers also took extra charges from passengers.
Most drivers said that if they take two passengers at a time, they won’t be able save enough for incurring fuel and other expenses.
A driver on the condition of anonymity said that he understands the importance of strictly following the social distancing norms. But the ground reality at many places in the city people continue to flout social distancing norms.
“Why only drivers even common people are flouting norms. The very purpose of lockdown restrictions have been defeated the way people continue to ignore social distancing norms at public places. We are also not witnessing strict action from police,” said the driver.
Another driver said that the school, colleges, have not been started, the number of persons who want to board three-wheeler is less. This was the reason why they are charging extra from passengers.
Meanwhile an official of Sikshit Berozgar Tempo Chalak Sangh (an outfit of auto-rickshaw operators) said that they plan to hand over a memorandum to the office of deputy commissioner requesting him to increase the passenger fare for auto-rickshaws as carrying two passengers at a time with old fare will not work for them.
On the other hand small shop owners, whose business were worst hit owing to lockdown, are now heaving a sigh of relief as they are now able to do some business.
“Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce had announced that if the State Government fails to take a stand on lockdown traders would be forced to start functioning. Unlike big shops that have higher earnings, people like us have limited earnings thus limited savings. Life had become tough as we were running out of savings, but I could now hope for earnings,” said a small shop owner of Jugsalai.
Since wearing mask when going out has been made mandatory, everyone was seen with them in the main market at Sakchi.
While a majority of services have re-started, the restrictions continued to be in place in the containment zone of the city from where most of the COVID-19 cases have been reported. There are 9 containment zones in the city.