COVID-19News

Penang Trishaw Riders Are Going Homeless As Tourism is Back to Being a Backwater

The pandemic isn’t going easy for everyone. International borders have been shut for over a year, and interstate travels are ground to a halt. Tourism has been greatly affected, forcing many to look for other jobs. That is not the case for trishaw riders in Penang, as most of them are senior citizens. With no source of income, many are left homeless.

Trishaw Riders in Penang Are Going Homeless With No Source of Income:

Photo: @m_photowalk (Instagram)

Trishaw, locally known as beca portrays a unique trait of the Malaysian heritage. Trishaw rides became an attraction along with Penang’s tourism boom. Back then, hundreds of foreign passengers will take a trishaw ride at the World Heritage Site. Today, trishawmen call the empty roads of George Town home.

According to Free Malaysia Today, Ibrahim Mohamad, a trishaw rider has been homeless for 15 months now. He used to earn about RM80 to RM100 per day when business was good. But when the MCO kicked in last year, things changed. With the international and domestic borders closed, tourists are nowehere to be seen and streets are often empty.

Photo: @jason2_8 (Instagram)

Ibrahim could no longer afford to pay RM200 rent for a room he shares with a few others. He and his fellow trishaw rider Azmi Saad, 47 camp in their trishaw. Every other day, they would shower at a nearby public toilet. Their meals depend on donations they receive from strangers.

Photo: @iamnazirul (Instagram)

Yet they’re not alone, there are about 300 trishaw riders in Penang. About 100 of them that are homeless, and most are seniors.

Update: Ibrahim and Azmi have recently found refuge at a compound of a Merdeka-era city council flat under the operation of Urban Life Volunteers, a group that helps the poor.

Seeking Help From The Authorities & Public:

Photo: @wingchow_97 (Instagram)

Ibrahim paid a visit to the social welfare department (JKM) to ask for aid. Yet one of the requirements for monthly aid was to have a permanent house address. How can they have a permanent address when most of them are homeless?

The council do provide a monthly allowance of RM100 to registered trishawmen, but it wouldn’t last long without a job. Persatuan Penarik Beca Pulau Pinang chief Abdul Latiff Mohd said most of the registered 80-odd members of his group were senior citizens. They did not hope for handouts alone but could not find jobs.

Photo: @ooowenong (Instagram)

“We do not even mind sweeping streets. I have asked the city council. But until now there is no news. How are we going to make even one ringgit when there is no one around during the lockdown?” he said.

“Today, no one wants to ride, even for RM3 or RM5. We are literally begging for business. And we have nowhere to go as this beca is our home.”

Foodies, let us all join hands together and share this new out to spread awareness, that’s the least we can do. If you know of any other ways that could help these trishawmen, leave them in the comments. That’s all, take care and stay safe.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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