Karnataka: Work-from-home norm hits cabbies, hoteliers hard | Bengaluru News – Times of India


Excise department officials say revenue has been hit since pubs, bars and restaurants are largely empty

BENGALURU: State excise department officials say the work-from-home norm has not only hit the department’s revenues, but has also crippled the hospitality and transport sectors which are largely dependent on private companies. Officials say lakhs of people – cab drivers and caterers for example — from these sectors have lost their livelihoods.
A huge majority of employees of IT-BT companies and those in the service sector have been working from home since March last year, owing to the pandemic. This has affected many auxiliary businesses, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Cab services, which catered to transport needs of these companies, have been badly hit as a majority of companies have stopped their services. Similarly, hoteliers and petty shops in the vicinity of these companies have shut down.
“More than 50% of cabs including those on Ola and Uber platforms are off roads due to lack of customers,” said Tanvir Pasha of Ola & Uber Owners and Drivers Association. “Around 65,000 cabs were attached to IT companies in Bengaluru alone prior to the lockdown. But now, there are hardly 5,000 cabs running.”
Pasha wanted the government to impress upon private companies to get employees back in offices.
Many cab owners returned to their hometowns when the nationwide lockdown was imposed and are eager to return. “I returned to Belagavi in April and since then I have been living here,” said Santosh, who drives his own cab in Bengaluru. “I’m jobless. I hardly get one or two bookings a month which is not even enough to pay instalments.”
The excise department too is feeling the pinch. At a statelevel meeting chaired by excise minister H Nagesh, officials said work-from-home norm have resulted in a decrease in revenues. They urged the minister to impress on the CM to cancel WFH norms.
Officials told the minister there was a drastic drop in Christmas and New Year sales compared to the previous year (2019). Only 1.06 lakh IML boxes were sold on December 30 and 31 last year compared to 1.26 lakh IML boxes on December 30 and 79,000 boxes on December 31, 2019.
Independent MLA Sharath Bachhegowda, who had raised the issue during the legislative session recently, also urged the government to find a solution to the problem. “It is a link in a chain. One business depends on another. If companies recall employees, the latter need cabs to take them to office. This will help people depending on cabs to survive. I’d like everything to return to what it used to be prior to the lockdown,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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