While Shops Can’t Sell Umbrellas during Lockdown, Street Vendors Make Brisk Business selling Umbrellas, Raincoats, two-wheeler seat covers etc in the City & Highways
Mangaluru: During the ongoing lockdown, food, groceries, vegetables, fruits, medical services and other essential services have been allowed to continue. But unfortunately, the shops which deal with umbrellas, raincoats and other rain gear are once again left in the dark, due to the lockdown this year during the busy monsoon time business. Even when the pandemic struck last year, these shops selling rain gear faced big losses, If the government had allowed these shops at least during this monsoon time, with the inclusion of monsoon essentials would have eased the difficulties of citizens during the rainy season. But the double standard of the government and district administration in not allowing shops selling umbrellas, raincoats etc during the lockdown, but has given full permission to the street vendors to sell the rain gear, has fumed a bunch of rainwear manufacturers and dealers.
The Maharashtra government has issued a notification that “shops and units related to sale/repair of umbrellas, plastic sheets, tarpaulins or raincoats etc.” have been included in the list of Essential Services and will remain open from 7 am to 11 am. The orders have been issued in Mumbai because the monsoon sets in early in that region. Shops selling raincoats and umbrellas usually start bringing in new stock by the end of May or the beginning of June. The decision by the Maharashtra State Government is related to facilitating agriculture operations, in view of the coming monsoon season. The facilitation is possible if all related shops like hardware, agriculture-related shops like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural equipment shops and also service centres, electrician, mechanics, automobile sale and repair shops etc. are allowed to function normally. Similarly, the Karnataka government also needs to follow in the footsteps of the Maharashtra government and allow shops to sell rainwear to ease the difficulties of the people during monsoon time.
With shops selling rain gear remaining shut since April, people are left with no choice but to get drenched in Mangaluru during heavy rains. While the monsoon is already here, it looks like particularly in the coastal region, people are bound to get drenched in heavy rain, as shops selling rain gear — umbrellas, raincoats, plastic sheets — have been ordered to be closed by the State government in the view of enhanced COVID-19 restrictions. With the government mulling a further extension of lockdown, it is more likely that people get exposed to torrential showers for an indefinite period of time. This process could lead to two kinds of confusions at a time when the pandemic is ruling the roost.
Either some getting a common cold and fever due to drenching may believe they are affected by COVID-19 and rush to health care facilities or others actually infected by COVID-19 and having symptoms might think that it is just a common cold, cough and fever. As per a physician in a local private hospital, he received a patient who had actually tested positive for COVID-19 but remained home thinking that the symptoms were due to his recent exposure to rain. Rain gear is normally sold at shops selling textiles, fancy items and such other shops that have been declared non-essential by the government since lockdown kicked in when it announced a curfew that was followed by a complete lockdown from May 10 to May 24 and now continued till June 14- and who knows, how long the lockdown would continue..
People in the Coastal region start preparing for the oncoming rainy season in May second week itself. The closure of textile and other shops has severely affected their preparation for the season. With the coastal areas witnessing continuous rain since May second week following Cyclone Tauktae, those venturing out to buy essentials and other permitted activities have no option but to get drenched. With the deteriorating quality of the available rain gear, it is impossible to use the ones bought last year in this season. One has to buy new umbrellas or raincoats every monsoon, which is common.
Terence D’souza, the proprietor of A R D’Souza & Son on Market Road, Mangaluru dealers in textiles and manufacturers of ‘Cow Brand’ umbrellas said, “We had a terrible business last year when the pandemic kicked in, both for textile and rainwear (umbrella) sales, and once again we are facing the same situation with the government not allowing us to run our business, while we see a bunch of street vendors selling the rainwear products elsewhere. While we are paying taxes, trade licence fees etc, and the government turns a blind eye towards the shop owners, but supports the illegal street vendors. By not allowing us to operate at least for a few hours during the lockdown, many of our employees are without work and not earning much, even though they are still on our payroll. The government and district administration should think of all these hardships faced by employees who depend on the income for a living. I only hope that the government will come up with a solution so that the industry dealing with rainwear survives”.
Like every year, this time of the month is joyful for Sathish Raju (name changed) who has been bedridden for over a decade. For this paraplegic, April & May months are the most productive months when he is given orders to make hundreds of umbrellas that are sold quickly just before the monsoon begins. This year, however, he has lost all hopes as he hasn’t received a single order owing to the lockdown. Like Sathish, a majority of the differently-abled eke out a living by making umbrellas for shops in the City. However, with no orders and unavailability of required materials, they are worried about their future.
Sathish was injured in a two-wheeler accident and later confined to his bed since the accident 11 years ago Due to the financial crisis and difficulty in travelling, he considered making handmade umbrellas which became an instant hit among his customers. “My clients include schools and other small scale organisations who give bulk orders during the month of April and by May, I dispatch the umbrellas. With the lockdown, my business which is my only source of livelihood has been largely hit,” he says. He used to meet his target of making 10 umbrellas each day which were sold at a cost of Rs 200-250 per piece. “Although I had bought some materials before the lockdown, I haven’t received any orders till now,” says Sathish.