Lockdown takes toll on north Bengal transporters
The coronavirus infection has started taking its toll on the transport sector in north Bengal, particularly among those who provide their vehicles on rent to lakhs of tourists who visit the region every year.
“It is a tough time for most of us as movement of vehicles has come to a halt in the lockdown. Considering the current situation, it is obvious we would lose our business for at least a month, if not more,” said Jayanta Majumdar, a transporter in Siliguri.
He said though their earnings had stopped, they needed to meet regular expenses like payments of salaries and EMIs of vehicles.
In north Bengal, over one lakh people are associated with the transport sector, including drivers, cleaners, conductors of heavy commercial vehicles and drivers of light vehicles which ferry goods and people to different places, including tourist destinations in the hills and the Dooars.
“The tourism sector has gone for a toss and there is hardly any chance that tourists would visit the region during the ongoing summer season. Also, it would take some more months for the industry to revive, even if north Bengal manages to tackle the menace of the novel coronavirus. Like hoteliers, transporters are an equally affected lot as they too make huge investments,” said Tanmoy Goswami, who runs a travel house in Siliguri.
Over the past few years, the rise in the inflow of tourists to the region had led to a growth of infrastructure and facilities in the sector. Earlier, tea was considered to be the largest industry in terms of employment. But these days, tourism engages almost a similar number of people.