Deepa Budathoki, Safa Tempo driver
A native of Gaighat in Udaypur district, Deepa Budathoki, 33, has been a Safa (Clean) Tempo driver in Kathmandu for the past decade. She drives the 6km New Road-Baneshwor stretch every day and lives in a rented room with her daughter and brother. Her husband works in Saudi Arabia but does not earn enough to support the family. Her income, while small, has helped in paying off mounting loans and managing rent and other expenses.
Deepa used to make eight trips on average every day, but then, the March 2020 lockdown changed everything. Her tempo stayed in the garage for five months. With no savings, worries about repaying her loans, the rent, and her daughter’s school fees kept her awake at night. Fortunately, money from her husband helped with some of the financial woes.
After the lockdown was eased she started to drive her tempo again. It was a choice between risking an infection while working or staying helpless at home again; Deepa chose to keep the wheels turning, while taking precautionary measures to protect herself.