Waste picker Dede said that every time the government imposed a lockdown, money would be even harder to come by.
“People are afraid to give money to us during the pandemic. Before, there would be office workers giving me food. But now, no one comes to work anymore. If the offices are empty, what are we going to eat?,” she said.
Although the government has not imposed a lockdown amid the Omicron wave, many offices have started to tell their employees to work remotely as the caseload grows dramatically this month.
Throughout this week, Indonesia logged around 60,000 new cases every day, bringing the total caseload to more than five million.
“Things have been quiet recently. The offices are mostly empty. It has been a struggle for me these past few weeks,” Dede said.
MORE ARE BECOMING HOMELESS
Walter Simbolon, an advocacy manager at charity group Sahabat Anak, said he has noticed more people living on the streets since the pandemic began.
“Many informal workers are seeing their incomes reduced to pretty much zero,” he told CNA. Meanwhile, he added, there are many formal workers who have been laid off and now have to work in the informal sector by selling tissues or drinks on the streets of Jakarta.
“They are all struggling because tourist areas are closed and crowds are being discouraged and dispersed by authorities. Meanwhile, people wouldn’t buy anything from them because they are afraid (of getting infected),” he said.
However, calculating the exact number of people living on the streets can be hard, public policy expert Trubus Rahadiansyah told CNA.
“Documentation for these people has been minimal. Even before the pandemic, the marginalised are often forgotten and ignored. At the same time, they also don’t want to expose themselves and remain invisible. This is why data on them is hardly ever valid and reliable,” the lecturer from Jakarta’s Trisakti University said.
“Whatever the true number is, you can be sure that the number has grown because of the pandemic.”