The Effects of Covid19 on Public and Paratransit Drivers in Developing Countries

Zahara Batool, Chinebuli Uzondu, Md Mohaimanul Islam, Farzana Rahman, Zia Wadud

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Public and paratransit services in low- and middle-income countries were severely hit by COVID-19 and related mitigation measures. This has affected both passengers and service providers. While there is now an abundance of studies investigating the effects on passengers, the literature on the impacts of the pandemic on drivers or service providers is scarce. As such, this study investigates the implications of the pandemic for commercial passenger vehicle drivers in the global south taking one South Asian country (Bangladesh) and one African country (Nigeria) as case study countries.

The study employed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) qualitative approach to explore and explicate the subjective experiences of drivers using semi-structured interviews. Using purposive sampling technique, thirty participants were recruited between March and April 2021. The recorded interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed using NVivo software.

The analyses identify key challenges faced by drivers into five distinct themes including personal and social, physical, and operational, health and wellbeing, governance and regulation, and bad enforcement and policing related challenges. Participants reported immense hardship due to the bans on operations and lack of passengers, eliminating or reducing their only opportunities for earning a livelihood. There was a consensus among participants that they were abandoned by their governments during the pandemic and were left with no other choice than to work in risky situations. They either had to use the little savings they had or borrow money to feed their families, further reducing their opportunities for the future. Apart from facing reduced income, debt crisis, and unsustainable workload challenges, drivers reported mental health consequences of the pandemic including depression, suffering anxiety, fear of risk infection and helplessness.

This research concludes the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and its following containment measures on the health and wellbeing, personal and working lives of public and paratransit drivers in developing countries are substantial. The pandemic has seriously affected transport workers, which also amplified earlier inequalities. Development of non-discriminatory policies, fair and stringent enforcement, and provision of targeted financial support along with awareness raising campaigns are essential to reduce the effect pandemic had on drivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101749
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalJournal of Transport & Health
Early online date23 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024


  • Drivers
  • Vulnerability
  • Inequality
  • Pandemic
  • Paratransit
  • Developing countries
  • Public transport


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