Kerala

Lockdown spells doom for driving schools in district

Owners and staff hard-pressed to make ends meet

In the lockdown period, when vehicles have disappeared from roads, those who impart driving lessons to thousands of people each year are also having a hard time. With driving schools remaining closed, the many who depend on these for their daily bread are looking at an uncertain future, as it is still not clear when all the restrictions would be lifted.

Sarath, who has been working with one of the driving schools in the capital, used to have a busy schedule till two months back.

Now, he says that he has been remaining cooped up inside his house, as there is no money coming in.

“I used to work part of the time as an instructor at the driving school, and the rest as a school bus driver on temporary basis. But with the schools also closed, I am not getting that wages too. I haven’t got out of home in the past few days,” says Sarath.

Suraj, who runs Swapna Driving School at Jagathy, says that many of the driving school owners are going through tough times as loans are pending and there is no way to pay their driving instructors.

“I have five cars, out of which three are relatively new and for which loans are pending. Due to the moratorium announcement, I haven’t paid the instalments in the past two months. There there are the pending building rents, taxes and annual insurance payments. I have paid the wages of the staff till March, but after that there was no money to pay. These two months of summer are the peak season for us, as a lot of students join the classes before their college year starts. Homemakers too come in large numbers during the summer season. We have a whatsapp group of those who run driving schools, where others are also sharing similar woes,” says Suraj.

As those working in the sector do not have a welfare fund, they have been requesting for financial aid from the government. “The MVD had stopped the learners’ test and driving tests many days before the lockdown. We can collect the balance fee from the students only after the driving test. The learners’ license has only six months validity and if it lapses, we will have to apply for it again for the students. Those who are halfway through will have to be given more practise, as they would have lost touch by now,” says Saraswathy Amma, who runs the Saras driving school.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 1:10:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/lockdown-spells-doom-for-driving-schools-in-district/article31505006.ece

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