Gul Hammad Farooqi
CHITRAL: The condition of auto-repair workshops in Chitral city is hazardous. Especially prone to hazard are the children working as “assistants” or “pupils” at the workshops, under mechanics. Almost all of the people working in these shops don’t use safety gears. Government and other organizations have turned a blind eye to the plight of the children, and other workers.
There is some hope, however, in the form of Muhammad Ishaq, who is the President of Motor Mechanic Association, and is trying to improve safety standards in the area.
“Most mechanics at the auto repair shops are working in insecure environment”, he told this scribe. “The risks are more because the workers spend their days working with petroleum products and gadgets”.
“The mechanics slide under the vehicles without any safety gears, like helmets, gloves, or safe shoes”, he explained. He also remembered a mechanic who died after a battery he was working on exploded a few years back.
Young boys and some children were seen working in auto repair shops. Most of them were reluctant to talk to media.
However, one of the workers, requesting anonymity, said that he has been working at the shop for five years. Some children said that they felt sad about being in dirty, greased, dresses, while other children are going to school. But, they said that they did not have any other option. Most of the children said that they were working because their families were poor.
Some of the children said they will be more than happy to go to school if the government or any NGO bears their educational expenses and gives financial help to their parents so that they could arrange at least two-time meal for the family.
Muhammad Ishaq called upon the government and NGOs to take measures for providing education to children who are working in auto repair shops. He said the children who should aspire to become doctors and engineers at this age are working in auto repair shops to support their poor families. He said little help from the government can change the lives of these children.