Meet the essential workers in Chennai who are silently helping you get through the lockdown

Chennai taxi driver ferries healthcare workers during lockdown

During the initial days of the lockdown, taxi driver V Ramesh often wondered whether he should return to his hometown of Vandavasi and start farming once again. He gave it up 12 years ago, since rains repeatedly failed him, and moved to Chennai hoping for better prospects.

“I had ₹7,000 with me when we went under lockdown, which was running out day by day,” remembers the 36-year-old, who lives in rented accommodation in Koyambedu with his wife and five-year-old son.

Then, a little over a month ago, Ramesh became an UberMedic driver — he has been a driver partner with the company — which gave him the chance to get back to work.

As an UberMedic driver, Ramesh ferries doctors and people who are unwell from home to hospital and back. This pilot project by the company is in partnership with the National Health Authority. So far, 23 cities in India have this service, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Delhi, apart from Chennai.

Three private hospitals in the city have signed up for this service with Ramesh. “These are doctors who treat non-COVID patients,” he explains, adding that he got a pass issued by the Corporation to be able to travel through the locked-down city.

The most important aspect of the job is safety and Ramesh follows a rigorous routine. “I wear gloves and a mask and there is a safety enclosure made of plastic sheeting which envelops the driver’s seat,” he says.

He wipes his car down with sanitiser and disinfectant every morning before he starts off, and also as soon as he drops off a passenger. “I send a selfie to the doctor who sends his/her location to be picked up. It is to reassure them that I am in my protective gear,” explains Ramesh. Does he fear infection? “No. I got myself tested before signing up for work. Besides, I am well-protected.”

Ramesh adds, “I’m thankful to be able to earn. I know I am helping people during a tough phase. But in reality, they are the ones who are helping me.”


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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:45:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/chennai-taxi-driver-ferries-healthcare-workers-during-lockdown/article31685856.ece

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