SINDHULI, April 6: Pappu Mandal who was spotted at Shantinagar, Sindhuli, along the BP Highway on Saturday evening, looked clearly tired. Yet he was walking at a slow pace. A local of Hanuman Nagar of Saptari district, Mandal said that he has been walking for the past four days and has to continue walking until he reaches home. "From Kathmandu, it's been four days. Now, still more to walk to Saptari, my home," he said. "After this lockdown, no work in Kathmandu, no option than to leave," added the daily wage-earner.
Transportation has almost come to a halt across the country after the government imposed the lockdown nearly two weeks ago. Those who could not manage to reach their destinations before the lockdown have been facing hassles. Mandal, one among thousands of laborers employed in Kathmandu, decided to leave the place due to the fear of starvation in the coming days. He used to work at a construction site and his contractor went missing after the lockdown was announced. He could not get even due payments.
According to Ram Singh Yadav of Mahottari who also walked from Kathmandu on foot with Mandal, the labor class is the hardest-hit by the lockdown. Since it was suddenly announced, they could not plan anything. "Many of us are walking on empty stomachs. Our daily earning is not bad, but that's not paid on time. So when the lockdown was suddenly announced, we all got hit," he said. "Let's see whether we can reach our homes safely," he added.
There were some more laborers in the group. If they can catch a bus on the way, that's going to be easier. Or else, they will simply walk on, they said.
From Kathmandu to Sindhuli, it is nearly 160 kilometers of distance. The sight of people walking on the BP Highway, mainly laborers, is not unusual these days.
And most of them are found to be heading to the Tarai districts.
According to DSP Shyam Bahadur Khatri, over 50 people walk toward the Tarai districts through the highway in Sindhuli. And police and civilians have been jointly providing biscuits and water to the needy. "It's a very sensitive time. We have been providing biscuits and water to the commuters," he said, adding the police keep exact data of only those who are traveling through vehicles and not commuters.
DSP Khatri stated that the local administration has also been facilitating for the ease of the commuters. As far as possible, they are being dropped home in vehicles.
Meanwhile CDO of Sindhuli, Yogendra Prasad Pandey said that arranging vehicles has become challenging as the number of people walking is large. "Hordes of people are coming by foot. It's the shortest highway to the Tarai districts, so they choose this route," Pandey said. "We have however been coordinating with police and trying to help as many people as we can," he added.