With the support of the Toyota Foundation, ITDP has been working with its partners in Yogyakarta to develop a modernized becak. The becak is a non-motorized, three-wheeled rickshaw and is unique in having the passengers sit in front of the driver. Based on ITDP’s successful modernization of the rickshaw in India, the becak modernization project aims to revitalize the becak as a mode of transportation.
The purpose is to increase the becak’s safety, comfort, and status, while reducing the weight for the drivers. In addition to providing pollution-free transportation, the project also directly benefits the poor – increasing the earning power of drivers who are often in the lowest income groups.
ITDP has received strong support from other organizations. The Yogyakarta Tourism Department has directly ordered 50 of the modernized becaks to serve as special tourist vehicles. A Muslim charity organization has also purchased modernized becaks in their efforts to help the poor. Local becak manufacturers and the tourism industry have offered their support and cooperation.
During 2005, the modernized becak model was further refined and update to address the suggestions of the drivers and passengers who used the 2004 model, the Bisma. The current model is now undergoing initial production, and efforts are focused on marketing it to reach a wider audience.
As part of the project, a special workshop has been constructed to serve as a laboratory for development and production of the initial models. Under Instran’s management, the project utilizes local workers with the guidance of local design assistant, Mr. Jufri Tengga, an engineering student at Yogya’s Gadjah Mada University. Technical direction is provided by Ms. Shreya Gadepalli of India, while oversight and guidance is provided by ITDP Vice President, Mr. Matteo Martignoni. Matteo and Shreya bring to Yogyakarta their experience from the development of the design for the Indian modernized rickshaw.
ITDP will provide modernized becaks to transport participants in the Better Air Quality conference to be held by the Clean Air Initiative for Asia in Yogyakarta during September, 2006.