GEORGE TOWN, Oct 7 — The trishaw riders in Penang are finally seeing business improve after more than two years of little to no income during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Roshidi Abdul Rahman, 58, said he is earning about RM200 a day especially on weekends and during holiday season.

“During the lockdowns, I didn’t even go out at all so I didn’t have any income after all,” he said.

Roshidi, who has been a trishaw rider for 16 years, said there are now more tourists so he can take tourists on at least a few trips a day.

Another trishaw rider, Tan Kee Heng, 66, said he charges about RM50 per hour and he takes about three to four tourists a day.

K. Puveneswaran, 43, who has been a trishaw rider for 14 years, said there are now a lot more visitors from East Malaysia.

“On average, I am earning about RM100 per day,” he said.

Ascott Gurney Penang ‘adopted’ the trishaw riders in Penang by sponsoring the upgrading and repair costs of the trishaws. – Picture by Opalyn Mok

According to state executive councillor Yeoh Soon Hin, there are close to 200 trishaw riders in Penang.

He said they have been around since the 1940s when locals used to take the trishaw as their main mode of transport.

“They are part of Penang’s heritage and identity so we should do what we can to preserve the existence of trishaws,” he said at a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme by Ascott Gurney Penang to “adopt” the trishaws in Penang.

The tourism and creative economy committee chairman said the state has also allocated some funds to refurbish and repair the trishaws in Penang but it will take some time as there were only two trishaw repairmen in the state.

Ascott Gurney Penang today announced its initiative to adopt the trishaws in Penang by funding the repair and refurbishment costs of the trishaws.

The hotel general manager Sharon Ang said they will work closely with the trishaw association to provide funding for all repair works and refurbishment of all the registered trishaw riders in the state.

“We will do this batch by batch after looking at the conditions of the trishaw and provide repair works that are required,” she said.

She added that the target is to fund between RM200 and RM500 in repair costs for each trishaw.

She said the hotel also have a special package where hotel guests will get free trishaw rides as a way to support trishaw riders.

Yeoh commended the hotel for the programme and hoped that other hotels will introduce similar programmes to help the trishaw community.

Asked about the monthly aid for the trishaw riders in Penang, he said all of the registered riders will continue to receive RM200 each month from the state.

“This will continue until the end of this year and I have proposed for this monthly cash aid to be continued in next year’s budget,” Yeoh said.