Mumbai: Bus contractor from Dharavi drives taxi to make a living after business shuts due to lockdown
From earning Rs 4-5 lakh in 2015, Yusuf Khan's earning reduced to Rs 50,000-60,000 a month, thus leading him to scale down his operations
A bus contractor from Mumbai, who was earning Rs 4 lakh a month back in 2015 and had eight buses under his company 'Khan travels', lost all means of livelihood when amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The extended lockdown broke Yusuf Khan's hopes of getting things back on track and most of his buses were seized by the bank leaving Khan with no option but to drive a taxi to make ends meet.
Born and brought up in Dharavi, Yusuf Khan (44), whose childhood was marked by poverty worked hard to start his business. Khan, whose father is a fruit seller, dropped out of school after class 8 and started working as an electrician. In his early 20s, Khan learned how to drive and moved to Saudi Arabia where he worked as a taxi driver.
After working in Saudi Arabia for five years, Khan returned to Mumbai and bought a mini-bus with his savings. In 2013, he started a travel company and within a span of two years, he had eight buses and was earning about Rs 4 to 5 lakh a month. However, Khan's earnings diminished when the lockdown forced schools to remain shut.
Talking to Hindustan Times about how the COVID-19 outbreak changed his life, Khan said, "Two school buses were left, after the rest were seized by the banks (Khan had bought the buses on loan), and they are biting the dust in the bus stand. There was no income for several months after the lockdown and I did not see the situation improving."
Left with no choice, Khan, who is father of two sons aged 13 and 17 and the sole breadwinner for his family, went back to where he started. In August 2020, Khan leased a taxi and started driving it to eke a living. "I manage to earn Rs 20,000 a month as a taxi driver but it is not enough," Khan said.
The effects of COVID-19 enforced lockdown was a double blow for Khan, who was already reeling under a crisis due to the demonetisation that took place in November 2016. From earning Rs 4-5 lakh in 2015, Khan's earning reduced to Rs 50,000-60,000 a month, thus leading him to scale down his operations. Khan was optimistic about doing better by adding more school buses to his fleet, but the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown put an end to all his plans.
Despite seeing his business collapse and earnings dwindle, Khan is hopeful of the situation to get better in the coming days. He said, "I have no regret that things did not turn out as planned and I have no shame to work as a taxi driver again. The money I earn is through sheer hard work. Financially, I have seen some very difficult phases in life and if I have managed to overcome those, I shall overcome this as well."
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