August 24, 2008

Indian Cycle Rickshaws Hit Bumpy Streets

NEW DELHI, Aug 24 (Bernama)—A lobby group in India is urging the government to drop any plans to ban cycle rickshaws in cities, otherwise nearly two million unskilled poor riders will be out of jobs, while the oldest and cheapest mode of transportation will fade away from Indian streets.

“If cycle rickshaws are banned, there will be problems for two million operators throughout the county who depend (on the cycle rickshaws) for their daily breads,” Nalin Sinha, head of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), told Bernama.

An estimated 500,000 human-powered cycle rickshaws criss-cross narrow lanes in Old Delhi alone or in popular Chandi Chowk since 1940s, ferrying passengers and goods for a measly sum of as low as Rs10 (RM0.77) per trip.

Despite the emergence of modern transport systems like underground metro rail and air-conditioned buses that run on natural gas in the Indian capital, rickshaw wallahs continue to play an integral role in the city’s transportation network, offering a valuable service for the public.

Rickshaw pullers come cheap for the commuters; and with their maneuvering ability in congested and narrow streets, passengers were able to reach their destinations faster and access crowded places easily, making the ricksaw riders an indispensable workforce in cities like Old Delhi.

Adds Nalin, “If you ban cycle rickshaws it will create huge problems in the city in terms environmental pollution, because they will be replaced by motorised vehicles that burn fossil fuel.”

“It will create parking problems and also add to traffic accidents,” he said.

About two years ago, the Delhi High Court tried to ban cycle rickshaws in the capital after policy makers claimed they were violating traffic rules and a nuisance in the streets, but ITDP challenged the court’s order in defence of the humble workers and even organised a forum with some 600 operators.

“These are people who are the poorest of the poor, mainly coming from rural areas, who are landless farmers, uneducated and unskilled so they have no jobs.

“They come to the cities to ride rickshaws and earn about Rs200 (RM15) a day, which can sustain their families.

“So it will create employment problems,” he said.

To access the original article, click on the link below:

Indian Cycle Rickshaws Hit Bumpy Streets

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