BENGALURU: Sourabh Kumar has been getting potholes fixed in the city for three years now. While every day spent at this job is gratifying, the past Sunday held extra importance for the 28-year-old, who is the co-founder of PotHoleRaja.
The Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation, which aims at ridding the country of potholes, has launched a new initiative to help blue collar workers who have lost a job, tide through these tough times. After distributing over 1 crore meals – where PotHoleRaja was a part of a Covid Relief Bangalore initiative – to the needy, the team realised that there is a greater need to provide these individuals with a source of income.
“We would usually ask volunteers to assist us with the pothole work, but now, we are starting to employ these workers so that they may earn a day’s wage at least,” says Kumar, who co-founded the organisation. On Sunday, he took with him a team of three workers to fix potholes in Lalbagh and HBR Layout. Kumar says a day’s work could earn a labourer between Rs 400 and Rs 500, with meals taken care of by the organisation.
“So we don’t just fix 40-50 potholes a day, we also help these workers earn money to sustain themselves in the current scenario,” he says. “Infrastructure is one of the biggest employers for them so we wanted to help them in some way. By fixing potholes, they also get to add an extra skill to their arsenal.” Once a pothole is reported by a citizen, funds are raised to get it fixed. Thanks to a network created while distributing meals during the lockdown, Kumar is able to identify who to approach for the task.
“So the money raised goes towards fixing the road and earnings for these workers,” he says. The efforts to help, however, don’t stop here. In the long run, Kumar is also looking at launching a platform on PotHoleRaja’s website, to connect the workers with potential employers. “The biggest challenge for them is a lack of resume or ability to find out about openings,” he says, explaining that the platform will bridge the gap between employers and employees by curating the area of expertise and contact details of the job-seekers. “If someone is looking for labourers for a construction business, the platform can show him who to connect with,” says Kumar.