KATHMANDU, MAY 17
Nandu Baram, 45, a bricklayer, has been without work for the last 12 days after the government imposed strict prohibitory orders inside Kathmandu valley on April 29 in a bid to check the spread of the second wave of COVID-19.
Although the government has allowed construction works, many construction works such as those of private houses have been halted for various reasons. The owner of the house Baram is constructing has also stopped the work due to prohibitory order. Eight other people working with Baram are sheltering in the under-construction house in Gatthaghar, Bhaktapur. But, they have not been paid their wage for many days making it hard for them to make ends meet.
Baram, who used to earn enough to support his children's education and live a comfortable life along with other family members in the valley, said he had never felt so helpless in his life.
"The owner of the under-construction house had made the payment two months ago. We sent the money back to our villages.
Now we have no money and are facing a very hard time here," Baram said. He further said that he and his friends were surviving on beaten rice, noodles and other fast foods for the last two days.
Prohibitory order imposed in Kathmandu valley and across the country has started taking toll on daily wagers in urban areas.
Pampha Rai and Prem Rai who are also daily wage earners face a similar situation.
The Rai couple said they had not found any work for the last two weeks.
"Before the restrictions imposed by the government, we used to earn enough though the work was quite tiring, but, nowadays it has become very difficult for us to survive in this city," Rai couple told THT.
The Rai couple had faced a similar ordeal during last year's nationwide lockdown.
But last year they had received a lot of support from local leaders and philanthropists, who had provided free meals at different chowks, and other individuals.
"But this year, no one has taken any initiative to help daily wagers like us," Pampha Rai said.
Last year, when there was strict lockdown throughout the country, many people and organisations had come forward to support the poor.
But this year, the situation is different - the poor and impoverished have to fend for themselves. There are only a few organisations that are providing free meals.
Hamro Team Nepal is one such organisation helping the poor. Hamro Team Nepal had been supported from all the corners to feed the helpless people at Khula Manch last year. This year too, they have continued providing free meals to people rendered workless in the valley due to the lockdown.
Bimal Pant, who has been providing free meals to the people, claimed that they still feed 700 to 800 needy people inside the valley on a daily basis. " We have been feeding daily wage earners, impoverished people and even school teachers," Pant said.
He said there were approximately 3,500 to 4,000 families inside the valley, who were in need of urgent support for their survival.
He further said that 25,000 to 30,000 families will not be able to make ends meet if the prohibitory order is extended by two more months.
The local governments, which had introduced several relief packages last year, failed to bring such programmes this year. For an instance, Kathmandu Metropolitan City had announced relief packages such as 'work for food'.
But this time, KMC and other local governments have done precious little to support those in need. Basanta Acharya, information officer of KMC, however, said they had asked ward chairs to collect data and provide support to those in need.
A version of this article appears in the print on May 18, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.