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Trishaw in Sibu, Kuching ler?
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Dwindling demand for trishaw service
By Peter Boon


SIBU: Competition from taxi and bus services coupled with waning demand for their service are making it difficult for trishaw operators to stay afloat.

Mastar Saleh, 72, sometimes goes home empty handed.

Mastar said there is just no demand for trishaw service these days.

“Most of the time, we deliver vegetables to customers’ home in the town area. If we are lucky enough, some folks will ask us to send documents to the express boat terminal,” Mastar told The Borneo Post recently.

“Only old folks go for trishaw service and there’re not many of them around. As such, if you can go home with about RM10 a day it is a bonus,” he said, adding that he makes about RM3 per day.

Mastar, who has some hearing problems, said in the past he could made a reasonably good income from this trade.

“But now with so many taxi and bus services around, and given that most people have their own mode of transport, it is getting extremely difficult to make ends meet,” he lamented, adding that only a few of them are left compared to about 300 in the 1970s.

Compounding his woes is his monthly rental of RM100 for a room at Jalan Foochow.

On top of that, he has a monthly maintenance cost to worry about. He needs to change the tyre every one or two months due to the wear and tear.

“In the past, it merely cost me about RM9 per piece. Now, it costs about RM20 per piece,” he grimaced.

Mastar prefers to stand on his own two feet as he knows his sons have their family commitments.

The former farmer said the trishaw business is his bread-and-butter. And he is too old to attempt anything else.

In the same predicament is Mahdi Sahari who makes about RM8 a day.

Mahdi, 74, who hails from Matu said at times, he has only two passengers to show for the day.

Mahdi who has been in this line of trade since 1977 said there is basically no demand for trishaw service these days.

The young generation think taking a ride in a trishaw is embarrassing, he said.

There seemed to be a stigma attached to it.

On the fare, he said it is up to passengers to give.

“You can’t request or set your fare because people will shy away from your service,” he said.

These days, owing to his age, Mahdi just picks up passengers around the town.

He recalled that in the past the income generated from this line of trade was sufficient to raise a family.

But these days, with things getting more expensive, it is becomingly increasingly difficult to make ends meet, moaned the elderly man who lives in a rented house with his son.

Abdul Rahman, 66, is at wits end on how to make ends meet. Like Mastar, he sometimes has nothing to show after a day’s wait.

“I start waiting for customers in the town as early as eight in the morning in rain or shine.

“And it is very depressing to go home empty-handed.

“I still have a younger son who is schooling to worry about,” he said.

Abdul Rahman, who has been in this line for the past 30 years, said this trade is dying due to waning demand.

“Only old people want to take a ride in a trishaw now,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, when met at his office, deputy chairman of Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) Daniel Ngieng said the council had submitted 20 applications for housing to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government from trishaw operators.

“The council is working with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to provide some form of assistance to register the urban poor including trishaw operators,” he said, when asked about the council’s stand on the matter.

Posted on: 2009/2/24 11:35
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news articles copied from numerous of external resources which includes Borneo Post, The Star, Bernama. Copyright belongs to their respective owner.
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