Due to changing pace of society, the eco-friendly cycle-rickshaws are fast disappearing from Vijayawada City, which once boasted the maximum number of these vehicles in the State.
In the past, thousands of people made their livelihood by riding the cycle-rickshaws. Now, the number of the rickshaw-riders is fast decreasing and there are no new takers to the profession.
Many of the rickshaw-riders have turned into auto-drivers with the advent of the autorickshaws.
Once Vijayawada was limited to One-Town and Two-Town areas till it got the corporation status. Thereafter, the City expanded due to increasing populations and many people were forced to live on the outskirts. They used to work at Autonagar and other areas and commuted to their work place and back home by city buses or shared auto-rickshaws thereby diminishing cycle rickshaw-riders’ income.
Senior rickshaw-rider G Pullaiah said that once there were 15,000 cycle-rickshaws in the City and rickshaw-riders used to earn enough money to run their families. But, that number has come down now to only 1,000 with the entry of auto-rickshaws and changing lifestyles of the people.
Pullaiah said that once there were cycle-rickshaw stands at the Railway station, busstand and other centres but now auto-rickshaws had occupied those places.
The availability of auto-rickshaws had attracted many rickshaw-riders and they switched as auto-rickshaw drivers to earn more money. Some rickshaw-riders run their cycle- rickshaws for school children earning Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 a month but the entry of mini-vans and utility vehicles has made a dent into their income. Many rickshaw-riders were now earning a mere Rs 150 to Rs 200 a day, they said.
One could see a few cycle-rickshaws at the railway station and bus-stand but no one was travelling by these eco-friendly vehicles, said Ch Sameer, a teacher. He said that the cycle-rickshaws could be motorized for faster transport but no one was interested.
Once there were more than 50 cycle-rickshaw manufacturing units at Hanumanpeta and other areas but gradually these units had closed down. One unit at Gandhinagar is still operative but is struggling for survival. A worker D Ramu said that once these units used to manufacture at least 10 to 20 cycle-rickshaws a day but now-a-days they were not even manufacturing 20 cycle-rickshaws a month.
CITU leader M Srinivasa Rao said that since the cycle-rickshaws were eco-friendly, the government should modernise them according to the present needs of the public and ensure that the humble vehicle does not totally disappear from the City.