Walking 3 days to get home

When spotted on the highway walking under a blazing Tarai sun on Tuesday, Chandra Baitha, Suraj Patel and seven others had been on the road for three straight days from Kathmandu. 

They had day jobs in the capital as construction workers and vegetable vendors, but with the city shut down for a week  and fast running out of cash, they decided to walk 200km to their villages in Rautahat, taking lifts from vegetable lorries part of the way.

“We slept by the roadside, and finally got here, and maybe we can make it to our village by sundown,” said one of them.  

Although not on the scale of India’s mass movement of migrant workers from cities to home villages this week, Nepalis trapped by the lockdown have also been trekking hundreds of kilometers to reach their home districts.

Returnees maybe taking coronavirus to rural Nepal, Mukesh Pokhrel and Sonia Awale

Most migrant workers in Kathmandu are from Nepal’s eastern mountains and the Tarai. Harinder Sah, Mohamad Tharu, Sheikh Jamun are from Ishnath municipality in Rautahat, and they could not get into buses when the lockdown was announced suddenly on 24 March. They have been walking for four days, after their contractor closed shop.

Four others who worked as day labourers in Biratnagar also arrived at the Chandrapur intersection of the East-West Highway, walking all the way from Itahari for four days – a distance of 200km. 

All the people walking along the highway on Tuesday said they slept where they could, ate what they could find along the way, the lucky ones could hitch a ride part of the way, and all along they had to dodge police checkpoints.“We thought it is better to go back to our villages rather than stay hungry five people to a room in Kathmandu,” said one of them.

Read also:

Nepal and India stop citizens from returning, Nepali Times

Lockdown limbo in no man's land, Deepak Kharel

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