Hetauda: Bharat Prasad, a street vendor in Main Road, Hetauda, used to earn around Rs 1200 per day prior to the pandemic. Now he hardly earns Rs 500.
Bharat Prasad, who is 77 and the sole breadwinner of his family, is anxious, unsure when the prohibitory orders would be lifted. It is a tough time, he says.
“I don’t even have enough money to buy food for my family,” he says. “If the situation remains the same, very soon we will die of starvation.”
The District Administration Office of Makwanpur has imposed prohibitory orders repeatedly to contain virus spread. Through a decision on Sunday, the prohibitory orders are extended till August 26. In the last one month, Makwanpur recorded a total of 1,770 cases of coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.
According to the orders, street vendors are prohibited from running their businesses, while shopkeepers are allowed to open their shops for limited hours. As the orders do not allow street vendors to run their business, Prasad runs his business secretly, hiding away from the police.
These recurring prohibitory orders have made the life of street vendors and shopkeepers hard and uncertain. Their business has dried up in the last year and a half with the onset of the pandemic.
Prasad’s case is not unique. Rajat Sharma, who owns an eatery at Main Road, Hetauda, reports that his revenue has gone down by up to 60 percent since the pandemic struck.
The government, however, is yet to come up with a relief package for small business owners. Both Prasad and Sharma appeal to the government that their situation be paid attention to.
“The loss in the business has made it difficult for me to pay the rent of the eatery and salary to the staff,” says Sharma, who was forced to cut back his staff from nine before the pandemic to two now.
Certainly, there are thousands like Prasad and Sharma who are going through similar hardship. The government, however, is yet to come up with a relief package for small business owners. Both Prasad and Sharma appeal to the government that their situation be paid attention to.
Sharma said that he has no option but to look at the unfolding uncertainty with quiet resignation.
“It is a very difficult time for people like me,” he said. “But we don’t have any other choice except to accept it.”