Chennai’s auto drivers upset at not getting nod to resume services

An auto driver in Chennai earns ₹15,000 to ₹20,000 per month.

An auto driver in Chennai earns ₹15,000 to ₹20,000 per month.  

Livelihood has been hit hard by the lockdown, say drivers

Autorickshaw drivers in the city are upset that the government overlooked them while announcing that autos in other districts could resume operations starting Saturday.

“A driver from our stand took his auto to a nearby shop with his aged mother and his vehicle was seized. We are scared to even drive our vehicles on the streets now,” said Ram, 47, an auto driver near the T. Nagar bus stand. He added that he had earned nothing in the last two months and had managed with his wife’s wages.

S. Madaswamy, who operates his auto in the Park Town area, said he was able to manage his family until the first week of April.

“I have not touched the vehicle after the lockdown started. A group of techies who are volunteering with NGOs visited my locality and helped us with groceries and vegetables,” he said.

During the lockdown, many auto drivers sold vegetables to earn a living. Santhosh, an auto driver from Velachery, said he and his friends bought vegetables from the Koyambedu wholesale market and sold them in their locality. “Our sales were good but unfortunately after news about Koyambedu being affected by the virus broke, we stopped selling vegetables,” he said.

Many auto drivers, who have purchased their vehicles through bank loans and financiers, were worried about not being able to pay interest for the last two months. Some drivers who rent autos on a daily basis have also not been able to pay money to the owners for the month of March.

Venkatesan, an auto driver in R.A. Puram, said he has not been able to pay his loans for the last two months. “In my stand, many drivers hire vehicles from others — they pay ₹150 per day. After the lockdown they left the vehicles with the owners and are being asked to pay rent. Without work how can they pay,” he asked.

The drivers said the government has to intervene and help them. Many auto drivers said this was their only source of income. An auto driver in Chennai, on an average, earns ₹15,000 to ₹20,000 per month, after accounting for expenses.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:41:33 AM |

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