Calcutta: Commuting to the office continues to be a harrowing affair for thousands who have been recalled since restrictions were eased last Tuesday, allowing 25% of the office workforce to return to work. While some spend a fortune on illegal cars or shared taxis, many ride bicycles or even walk to and from the office. There’s also a section where you can hitchhike on all available transport, be it special employee trains, mini-trucks, private cars, or even bike transporters.
“I walked 3 km from my home in Behala Kadamtala to DH Road before using any available means of transport – car, private vehicle, or shared taxis – to Taratala. From there I take another car to the intersection of Rashbehari Avenue. From there I’m at the mercy of private drivers who drop me off at the junction with Exide before I go to my office on Camac Street, ”said Tanima Mondal, who works for a private company.
Mondal said the trip home would be even worse when lots of private cars and automobiles came out on the road and she waited for hours for a suitable commute option. “Last week I even got into the car of a senior police officer who kindly took me closer to my house and saw me moving vehicles late in the evening and asking for a lift at Rashbehari Crossing,” she said.
While auto rickshaws still avoid major thoroughfares to avoid fines, the tricycles are still the lifeline of the majority of office goers as they travel through lanes and back roads, often with excess passengers. With some special staff trains running between Hooghly, Howrah, South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas, many even take those who ignore the impending penalty if caught by the authorities.
“I know we are not allowed to drive this train. But the government should have arranged alternative transportation for us. My employer refused to arrange a pick-and-drop facility for us and even threatened layoffs and the no-work-no-pay option. What else can I do? “Said an employee of a private company in South Kolkata who took a special train for Subhasgram employees in South 24 Parganas to get off at Ballygunge station before going all the way to his office near Hazra – Crossing went.
Tanushree Acharyaa from Dum Dum has a strange problem. During the earlier phase of heightened security restrictions, she had a smoother ride to the office as she went to the airport prepaid desk and booked a taxi to her place of work – a jewelry store in Ultadanga – with the office reimbursing the fee.
“But since the restrictions were relaxed and office hours extended, I spend between an hour and two on the road waiting for the transport. Today I waited an hour before taking a private car to the Ultadanga intersection for Rs 150 before walking to the store, ”Acharya said.