The Cyclo Conservation Association will hold a cyclo race in Phnom Penh next month to promote the traditional form of transport and improve the livelihoods of drivers.
Im Sambath, the association’s executive director, yesterday said the event will be held on Koh Pich and hundreds of cyclo drivers are expected to take part.
“We will hold the event from June 23 to 24 and we have one month to prepare for it,” he said. “We aim to showcase the traditional form of transport to the public and tourists.”
Mr Sambath said the racing track will cover 900 meters and racers must be physically fit and not too old, adding that the race will be between two pairs of competitors with 69 pairs taking part.
He noted that the winner will pocket $100 in prize money and the second and third placed driver will get $80 and $60 respectively.
A cyclo is a three-wheeled, pedal-powered vehicle, typical to Cambodia, that was popular in the past but most locals now prefer motorised vehicles.
Hok Van, 55, a cyclo driver at Phsar Kandal market, yesterday said he would take part in the event despite his age.
“I want to try although I am old and I need the exercise,” he said.
Ta Van, 53, another driver, yesterday said that nowadays people do not opt to ride in cyclos because motorised three-wheelers or tuk-tuks are faster.
“In Phnom Penh, we only see cyclos at Phsar Kandal market, and some drivers ferry tourists in the mornings and evenings for sightseeing trips in the city,” he said.
A Cyclo Foundation, with 320 members, was created in January 2018, and Prime Minister Hun Sen is its honorary chairman.
Phnom Penh Governor Khoung Sreng is the foundation’s president and it is estimated that the organisation will need around $300,000 per year for its work.
In March, Mr Hun Sen said that the foundation has proven to be a boon for Cambodian cyclo drivers.
He said the foundation gives the drivers a small allowance and offers them free medical care.
Mr Hun Sen noted that its aim was not only to preserve the contribution of cyclo drivers to the tourism industry but also provide them with some form of social protection, in line with the government’s policy.
“If we look at the income of cyclo drivers, they can get 7,000 riels [$1.75]) per day, that’s more than 2.5 million riels [$617.26] a year [from the foundation]. They will get an additional payment for Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben Day, and some clothing,” he said.