Ride-sharing motorcyclists have been going through a rough time for the last one and a half years due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the consecutive lockdowns enforced to contain the spread of the virus.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) asked motorbike riders not to carry any passengers during the nationwide strict lockdown that started on July 1.
Some riders have been trying to get passengers via verbal contract amid the restrictions, as it’s the only means of their livelihood. However, they had to pay fines, and cases were also filed against them while doing so.
Earlier on April 1, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) banned motorcycle ride-sharing services to prevent the transmission of the virus and ensure social distancing. The restrictions were relaxed before Eid-ul-Fitr.
Md Jakir Hossain, a Pathao rider told Bangladesh Post that he hasn’t gone out since the lockdown started in fear of trouble from the police.
“I have been hearing that they are extracting fines. I don’t have enough money to get through the month; how will I pay the fines?”, he said.
Another rider Md Hassan, a father of three children said that he couldn’t afford to stay inside and therefore, went out being desperate for survival. However, a case was filed against him for carrying a passenger and since then he has been staying indoors.
Many riders said that they used to earn Tk 15,000-20,000 per month but their income has now totally stopped.
Ride-share and Service Delivery Workers’ Union convener Rafiqul Islam told Bangladesh Post that the ride-sharing motorcycle riders are going through a huge crisis at this moment. Many riders are trying to carry passengers despite the ongoing restriction due to their helplessness and are subsequently facing fines and cases.
He also urged the government to ensure vaccines for ride-sharing motorcycle riders and drivers.
Pathao President Fahim Ahmed told Bangladesh Post that the country is under a strict lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. Pathao has temporarily suspended ridesharing operations in compliance with this directive.
However, mentioning the increase in orders he said “We are also seeing a significant increase in our food, grocery, parcel and courier orders at this time. Pathao is committed to providing essential services to our customers during this pandemic. We continue to offer income potential for our drivers through the delivery of these services, at a time when their earnings are hit due to the suspension of ridesharing.”
Officials of Shohoz, the online and on-demand service provider, informed Bangladesh Post that they have been following the restrictions enforced on ridesharing services by BRTA since the beginning. They said that they will resume their services once the ban is lifted.