Essential service workers are finding new ways to get around

Traveling around the city post-lockdown, even for essential service workers, has not been hassle-free with route restrictions and strict police surveillance. With public transport severely restricted, people working in essential services are now turning to carpooling or carpooling.

BM Manjunath, PRO, BWSSB said he picks up his colleagues on the way to the office and brings them home every day. “It’s also an efficient use of assets amid the lockdown. This is our informal arrangement. Most of those who have received official vehicles at our offices do so,” he said.

Prasad Babu, a resident of JP Nagar, who works at a bank in Bidadi, said three of his colleagues used to take the bus on normal days. “However, now we are going together in one of our vehicles. As many roads are blocked in the city, we are forced to take new routes. We are stopped by the police for verification at least twice a day,” he said.

Another civil servant traveling to town from Nelamangala for work said he was hitchhiking with his colleague. “We share the journey. It saves us money and energy and is safe,” he said.

A few offices and institutions, such as the Victoria Hospital, have provided transportation for their employees. “Besides our hospital staff, we are also supporting staff from the nearby Minto Eye Hospital and Vani Vilas Women and Children’s Hospital,” said Somashekar C., a driver at Victoria Hospital. He added that many, who otherwise used their private vehicle, are now using the service.

The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) has also provided its vehicles to some departments. Kumar Pushkar, MD, KSTDC said, “Our vans are used to pick up and drop off essential service personnel, mainly health department officials, even from Mandya and Tumakuru. Apart from this, BBMP borrowed ten vehicles to pick up homeless and destitute people from the streets.

He also said that KSTDC is ready to provide its vans and even its buses to any department that needs its services. KSRTC officials also say they were ready to provide their services if approached by departments.

54 KSRTC buses to transport the pourakarmikas

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) borrowed 54 buses from the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to transport the pourakarmikas from their homes to places of work and back. Previously, due to the lockdown, hundreds of pourakarmikas had been forced to walk to workplaces, and many were also unable to go to work.

Sarfaraz Khan, Co-Commissioner (Solid Waste Management), BBMP, said the civic body had taken all measures to maintain social distancing even inside buses. “It will also ensure that pourakarmikas who may show up for work due to lack of transportation will now be able to return to work as free transportation is made available,” he said.

Penchalamma, a pourakarmika and resident of CV Raman Nagar, said she works near Lake Halasuru and often walks the distance to get there. “I walked more than 8 km a day just to get to work. Now that they have provided transport, it saves us time, energy and money. They should have done it a long time ago,” she said.

Babu, Chairman of BBMP Pourakarmika Sanghagala Okkuta, said that they had demanded that the BBMP provide transport for the pourakarmikas since day one of the lockdown. “Better late than never. Without passes or identity cards, the pourakarmiaks found it difficult to get to the workplaces,” he said.

Michelle J. Kelley