Gangtok, 24 March: Labourers, workers and employees from other states struggled to leave the state amidst a shortage of vehicles today, as the statewide lockdown starts tomorrow (Wednesday) onwards.
With the neighbouring state of West Bengal already under lockdown, many were clueless about their transportation. There were also reports of utility vehicles being used as transportation, with many citizens from other states willing to take a rough ride to Siliguri before proceeding to other parts of the country. Also, many opted for transit by travelling till Rangpo in an SK (Sikkim) number vehicle and crossing the border by foot and then travelling towards their destinations in a WB (West Bengal) number vehicle. Reports have emerged from Rangpo, Singtam, Ranipool and Gangtok of citizens from other states scrambling to board taxis, buses and other vehicles.
Though the state government has asked the employees and labourers of industries, under-construction projects, commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants and manufacturing units not to leave the state during the lockdown starting tomorrow, many, particularly the labourers struggled to return to their respective states.
One such labourer, Kumar, hailing from Asansol district in West Bengal spoke to Sikkim Chronicle in Ranipool, East Sikkim, while waiting for the elusive taxi service.
“It will be difficult for us to sustain in Sikkim during the long run. Who knows for how long this may be extended,” he said.
Another labourer from Bihar, Kishen stated that, since there was uncertainty with the lockdowns, it was advisable to leave Sikkim.
Though there was no bar on taxis with even numbers today, it was clearly short of the number. With over 30 states and Union Territories on a virtual standstill, getting back home is a challenge for many individuals.