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Friday, October 5, 2007

By 2010 you won't see Tuk-tuks in Vientaine

Tuk-tuks to be off the streets by 2010

A move to ban tuk-tuks and jumbos in Vientiane is scheduled to take effect in 2010, but drivers have expressed dismay at the proposal, fearing they will lose their livelihood.
Tuk-tuks and jumbos wait for passengers at the morning market.
Authorities see that these vehicles to some extent cause road accidents in the city, resulting in several deaths and injuries every month.
Director of the Vientiane Department of Communi-cation, Transport, Post and Construction, Mr Thongdam Xayphakatsa, said yesterday the department was preparing to put the idea into practice.
“We can all see that these vehicles are in poor condition. Some of them don't even have indicators, or front and back lights,” he said.
The department is trying to encourage the use of all vehicles for family purposes, and is seeking to improve the city's transport services, especially buses and taxis.
A private company in Laos has recently imported more than 30 buses from China , which will go into service in Vientiane in October as part of the capital's transport upgrade.
There are concerns that the ban will make life difficult for tourists, for whom tuk-tuks are the perfect mode of transport around Vientiane .
A British woman working here, Ms Angela Edwards, commented that the proposal to ban these vehicles was not a good idea.
“This form of transport is the most convenient and for so long I have been thankful that I could jump on a tuk-tuk, anytime, anywhere.”
“I think it is unlikely that a bus service could ever substitute for the convenience offered by tuk-tuks, and taxis are way too expensive. Tuk-tuks are the people's transport.”
“I've been told officials say they are considered sub-standard, but what is it exactly they don't like about them?” she asked.
“Tuk-tuks provide a form of service for which there is no substitute; it is one of the reasons I enjoy life in Laos ,” she said.
The ban has yet to be implemented, but it is a hot topic among tuk-tuk and jumbo drivers, who are concerned about unemployment.
One driver, who has been in the job for 16 years, said his earnings formed the family's main source of income. “I don't know what I would do if I couldn't drive a tuk-tuk anymore,” he said.
At present there are several thousand tuk-tuks and jumbos in Vientiane , of which 30 are stationed near Nam Phou fountain, and frequently used by the numerous tourists in this area.
They are mostly made from parts imported from Thailand and assembled in Laos.
By Somsack Pongkhao (Latest Update September 27, 2007)

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