Living off peanuts, beans – COVID-19 pandemic has impacted business, says Lal

Ajay Lal sells savouries in Kinoya, Nasinu. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

AJAY Lal makes a living by dodging and darting around vehicles at the busy Khalsa and Kinoya roads junction outside Suva.

Dressed in rags, wearing worn-out flip-flops and an old reflector jacket, the 48-year-old sells roasted peas and fried peanuts from an old backpack.

Apart from the obvious danger posed by traffic, the junction is notorious for “grab and run” theft.

Mr Lal said he had no choice but to go out and sell every day because it has been his family’s main source of income for more than four years.

A nearby bakery sells cream buns for a dollar each and this has faithfully provided him lunch over the years.

Mr Lal said the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his business, but every morning he was forced to return to the junction so his family could have a decent meal.

“Now I can only manage to take home $15 a day, but before this pandemic I used to earn around $30,” he said.

“Rain or sunshine I sell peas and peanuts to vehicles that stop when the lights turn red because this is the only way I am able to pay bills and put food on the table.”

He said while there were many generous Fijians, there were also occasions when people drove off without paying him.

“One day, a group of young boys grabbed my mobile phone and ran away with it.

“I know this junction is a very dangerous place, but I have got no other choice.

“This pandemic has really affected my business because of the curfews and lockdowns.”

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