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THE CASE FOR LATE-NIGHT WEDDINGS: Not easy for those looking for an extra buck


THE CASE FOR LATE-NIGHT WEDDINGS

Not easy for those looking for an extra buck

By Urooj Zia (Pakistan Today, 23 December 2010)

KARACHI: The clampdown on weddings that run late into the night has ruined business for ‘part-time’ taxi drivers – men who drive taxis after they’re done with their day jobs in order to earn some extra income. The main problem, they maintain, is that now, everyone gets out of wedding halls at the same time, minimising chances for multiple taxi runs, thus decreasing the drivers’ incomes.

“I earn around Rs14,000 at my day job; after Maghrib, I become a taxi driver. I used to do good business till around 3 a.m. because people leaving late weddings needed to get home, and not all of them had access to private transport,” 22-year-old Shahid, who works as a mechanic for the Sindh government, said. “The clampdown on ‘late weddings’ might have helped save electricity, although it doesn’t seem that way if one were to judge by the amount of power load-shedding that the KESC (Karachi Electric Supply Company) resorts to, but now I’m forced to be home by 1:30 a.m., slashing a huge chunk off my income.”

Other ‘part-time’ taxi drivers concur. ‘Earlier, some weddings were over by 1 a.m., some by 1:30 a.m., 2 a.m., etc. Some even went on till Fajr. We would come back after dropping passengers off and hang around wedding halls; there was always a chance of picking up sawari. That opportunity is gone now,’ they said.

Things become more complicated for drivers who don’t own their taxis, and instead, ‘rent’ them from transporters. “I have to pay a fixed amount of Rs400 every day to the person from whom I’m renting the taxi. This is in addition to the money I have to put in for fuel, maintenance, etc,” Nisar, who has a B.A. degree and works as a peon at a bank in the morning, explained. “This wasn’t a problem earlier, because a five-hour run after 10 p.m. would rope in around Rs1,500 to Rs2,000. After deducting fuel and maintenance costs and money for the transporter, I’d be left with Rs700 to Rs800. Now, I barely make a total of Rs700 per night, and have to deal with costs out of my own pocket. I’d been waiting to see if the law would be overturned; but now I’m thinking of giving up my taxi and starting something else.”

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