The COVID-19 pandemic is not limited to the most immediate dangers. It has also deprived employers in Aleppo, as is the case for residents of other Syrian cities, of their income, in light of the absence of guarantees to meet the basic needs of their families and the Syrian government’s issuance of the necessary curfew decisions to combat the disease without addressing its repercussions.
Drivers and day laborers have stopped work completely or almost completely, making some of them unable to meet the needs of their families, perhaps even more so than the years of war they experienced.
Muhammad Ali Assaf, an internal transport driver on the al-Azamiya-University line in Aleppo, told North-Press that he faces difficulties in securing his family’s needs after losing his daily income amid high prices, saying: “we abide by the government decisions, but how do we feed our families?”
He added, “If the suspension of transport is extended, and I remain without work as it is now, the results will be disastrous for my family; I have lost the only source of income to provide for my family’s needs.”
There are no working solutions looming on the horizon of the plans that are being issued and approved by the Syrian government and its assigned committees to take precautionary measures to confront coronavirus, meaning whoever relies on daily or weekly incomes remains in conflict with high prices under the lockdown conditions.
Amina Razouk, a resident of al-Sha’ar neighborhood in Aleppo, who works in a medical supply warehouse in al-Midan neighborhood, told North-Press that she still gets a weekly wage for her work in a medical warehouse because it is exempt from the lockdown. However, the suspension of public transport and high taxi fares has her facing heavy costs that are not commensurate with her income.
“Taxis have raised fares astronomically, and transport costs within the city of Aleppo are not suitable for middle-income people,” she said.
Many countries around the world have resorted to providing living aid and allocating salaries to families after the suspension of the work amid lockdown measures, according to social security and cost of living. In light of Canada, which allocated 2,000 Canadian dollars to each family for four months, procedures to provide food rations and basic necessities in Lebanon and other Arab countries also seem necessary, according to observers.
Despite having been accused of raising fares, taxi drivers see themselves as victims. Muhammad Hammoud, a taxi driver in the city of Aleppo, told North-Press that the partial curfew which was set by the Syrian government and the restriction of transport to only 12 hours a day, resulted a shortage in taxi drivers’ income, who often support more than one family.
He added that, “The only option available after cutting driving hours, even though it is the source of income, perhaps for more than one family, was to raise the fare, so that more than one driver can share the profits of a single car.”