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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Car-washing industry lures rural poor

Car-washing industry lures rural poor

DURING the dry season when farm work decreases hundreds of countrymen venture to

the city to look for short-term odd jobs.

This year many countrymen have

decided to stay in Phnom Penh after landing good paying jobs in the newly

expanding car-wash industry which is flourishing this wet season because of the

muddy streets and a large increase in the number of cars on the road.

A

female car-washer from Svay Rieng said: "Almost all of the car-washers are poor

people from the countryside. Besides cyclo and moto taxi driving, washing cars

is also suitable for unskilled countrymen, especially for women. That is why

nearly half of the car-washers are women."

A 21-year-old man from Prey

Veng province called Mab who works at the Car-Wash on Street 51 near Street 200

said: "I never learned at school. I am an illiterate man.

"I left my

province four months ago in order to find a job in Phnom Penh but there was no

job suitable for me except for washing cars."

"Many people consider

working as a car-washer to be a low position. I sometimes get looked down upon

by car owners who come to have their car washed, they scold me as if I am a dog.

"I try to be patient and friendly, this is the usual behavior of low

ranking workers. Being poor I cannot hesitate to accept any job. I make 40,000

riels per month which is much more than I ever made in the country."

Long

Than, a 22 year old woman from Svay Reing, said: "I am very happy to do work

washing cars even though people look down on me because I can earn as much as

some civil servants."

"I make 30,000 riels a month and my boss provides

me with free food and accommodation as well. This allows me to save money for my

family.

"I am pleased to work as a car-washer. No other job suits me

because my knowledge is too low. I only finished primary school."

Van

Ny, a 30 year old widow from Prey Veng, said: "I am proud to be a car-washer, it

is better than being a prostitute or an escort girl in a nightclub."

The

owner of the Street 51 car-wash Ngin Yanny says: "Car-wash owners can't make

much from the business due to expenditure on salaries, water, tax and spare

parts for the cleaning and pumping machines."

"However many car-wash

businesses have opened recently. Many people think there is considerable money

to be made washing cars when they see the dirty streets caused by rain and

broken sewers."

"I have 20 employees. The eight women I pay 40,000 riels

per month, and the twelve men I pay 50,000 riels per month. The business earns

revenue of between 60,000-70,000 riels per day. I charge 5,000 riels for

cleaning cars, and 1,000 riels for cleaning motos."

"After paying taxes

and expenditure on capital I make only enough money to just feed the family. But

I keep the business going because otherwise I'd be jobless."

Another

car-wash owner said she employed five women and six men. "I pay the women 30,000

riels [each] and the men 60,000 riels and I provide them all with food and

accommodation. I only make a profit in the rainy season."

She added that

the men are paid more because their work is harder.

Though most

car-washers make money from the rain and the streets being dirty and full of mud

they say they have goodwill towards the country and want the streets to be clean

and the weather to be sunny.

In contrast one woman said: "I want it to

rain every day so that the streets are filled with mud and I can make more money

washing cars."

VN fights inflation 

HANOI - The Vietnamese government is determined to keep the annual inflation

rate below 10 percent but the task won't be easy, Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet was

reported as saying on June 24.

"In the first five months of 1994,

[prices] increased six per cent. The effort to keep the annual rate below 10 per

cent will be quite a strain," newspapers quoted Kiet as saying.

To curb

inflation Kiet prescribed measures such as boosting production, widening the

distribution of consumer goods, controlling the circulation of money and

balancing supply and demand.-Reuters

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