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‘Loader man’ stung by COVID crunch

Published:Thursday | April 8, 2021 | 12:06 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Robert Scott loads public passenger vehicles in the main transportation parks in the town of Mandeville.
Robert Scott loads public passenger vehicles in the main transportation parks in the town of Mandeville.

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

Robert Scott, a 60-year-old Manchester single parent, has been watching his ‘rainy-day’ savings drying up over the past few months as his earnings dwindle from his daily hustle amid curfew and other COVID restrictions.

For 25 years, Scott has been working as a ‘back-up’ or ‘loader’ man, soliciting passengers for public vehicles starting their trips in the Manchester capital.

He told The Gleaner that in the good times, he earned up to $200 per vehicle, grossing $4,000 a day, depending on the route and the size of the vehicle. From that, Scott has been able to send his children to school and provide for his family.

Now, with less travel since fewer students and other people are commuting, Scott’s daily earnings have slumped to around $2,000.

“If you don’t work, you don’t earn, and for years now I have been a single father, so I have to work extra hard to make sure them good,” he said, referring to his two children.

It is why Scott is hoping that the COVID lockdown periods end soon.

“Sometimes a people give me things because them see me as a humble man who is trying to provide legally for his family. Outside of that, if there is no work, it will be hard. We a guh suffer,” he said.

The novel coronavirus struck just when Scott was planning to upgrade his board house to a concrete structure on lands he inherited.

“COVID really give we a beating,” he said, lamenting that Jamaica would have better responded to the pandemic if people were complying with the Government’s containment protocols.

Scott believes that the Government should explore the possibility of giving relief grants to persons in particular industries if the lockdowns continue.

The Government is to disburse $126 million for the vulnerable through the Constituency Development Fund.

With each MP expected to be allocated $2 million to be distributed, there may be little hope for Scott.

“I wouldn’t mind if the Government can help people like us who are working legally, no matter what the job may be, in this hard time,” he said.

“I don’t have a big degree or any trade. I can’t work from home,” Scott added.