Ahmedabad: Schools go online, van drivers in survival mode | Ahmedabad News

AHMEDABAD: Kishore Solanki converted his school van into a mobile snack store in Memnagar from which he serves South Indian dishes such as medu vada and idli. This is the same van the 51-year-old used to pick up children and drop them off at school before the pandemic.
“I earned around 12,000 rupees every month carrying children to school,” Solanki said. “In the pandemic, education was done online, there is no income at all. After borrowing money to survive, I decided to change jobs and turn my van into a restaurant. My wife cooks the food and I sell it.
For Solanki, the change was not easy as he had to be out of work for six months before finding this alternative means of livelihood. With in-person classroom studies halted for about a year and a half amid the Covid-19 pandemic and schools being brought online, many school van drivers found themselves out of work. The gloomy business forecasts stem from the fact that despite the opening of schools for grades 8-12, few students have opted for physical school attendance.
For Ritesh Shah, 42, who lives in the Vejalpur area, it had only been eight months since he bought a new van for schoolchildren when the pandemic struck. “I used to drive a bus. But the school authorities I worked for interrupted the service and encouraged me to buy a van. I started selling milk in my van when the schools closed, but I suffered financial losses and had to give it up, ”Shah said. Today, he earns a living by selling paani puri and earns around Rs 500 per day.
Indravadan Modi, who is a second generation school van businessman, owns a fleet of 10 vans and employs 11 drivers. With schools closed, the vans are collecting dust as most of its drivers have taken other jobs to survive. Modi now markets specialized alkaline water machines.
“The water business has kept me afloat. I don’t know when the schools will reopen fully, ”Modi said. “My father started the school van business in 1983, it is the first time that such uncertainty has gripped us.”

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