Subscribe Search

Search form

Tuk-tuk ramp takes outreach to a radical new level

A Skateistan volunteer demonstrates the tuk-tuk ramps at Wat Thmei pagoda
A Skateistan volunteer demonstrates the tuk-tuk ramps at Wat Thmei pagoda. SKATEISTAN

Tuk-tuk ramp takes outreach to a radical new level

Not content with opening the city’s first skate park, social outreach NGO Skateistan has built a skate ramp on wheels

The kids couldn’t come to the skatepark, so now the skatepark is coming to them. Skateistan, an NGO that uses skateboarding to empower young people, has built the “world’s first tuk-tuk skate ramp” to give access to Phnom Penh’s poorest children who can’t make it to the NGO’s centre near Trabek lake.

“It’s the poorest, most marginalised children we reach with the tuk-tuk,” said Skateistan operations manager Benjamin Pecqueur.

The vehicle, which was designed by NGO Building Trust International, features three folding ramps on the back of the carriage. About 1-metre in length and 20 degrees in angle, the ramps are designed with small, inexperienced users in mind.

“It’s a simple system we can set up in 10 minutes only,” said Pecqueur, adding that the Chinese-made, 200cc tuk-tuk cost about $1,300, while the ramps cost an additional $1,000.

The tuk-tuk was launched last month and travels around the city three times a week to give kids in far-flung neighbourhoods an opportunity to try out skateboarding.

Since last year, Skateistan has used pagodas across the city as training grounds, with Pecqueur and other volunteers teaching children basic manoeuvres, but Pecqueur said it had become clear that flat pagoda courtyards were not stimulating enough for the young skateboarders.

“Often, the floor is not very flat and the condition is not so good,” he said.

“It’s fun for a few weeks, but after, you need something to improve, to have more challenge.”

The skate ramp tuk-tuk ready to go
The skate ramp tuk-tuk ready to go. Bennett Murray

The tuk-tuk has proved popular thus far – on Wednesday, about two dozen children turned out at Wat Chas across the Japanese Bridge to have a go. None had ever skated before, said Percovich.

“They’ve heard about it from their friends, but this is their first time,” he said.

Skateistan was first founded in Afghanistan in 2007 by Australian Oliver Percovich as a different approach to community outreach for Kabul’s impoverished youth.

Using skateboarding lessons as its draw, the aim was to provide a safe space for Afghan children to develop other life skills. Its Cambodian chapter was launched in 2011, followed by a Johannesburg centre last year.

In November 2013, the NGO brought pro-skating legend Tony Hawk to Phnom Penh for a skating demonstration at its centre.

Pecqueur said there were plans to build more skate ramp tuk-tuks as Skateistan looks to expand to Sihanoukville.

“We are working with Building Trust and another partner to build a solar tuk-tuk – we think that would be a good opportunity to do something for the environment,” he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Thy Sovantha threatens new suit

    Social media celebrity and card-carrying CPP member Thy Sovantha yesterday said she will file a lawsuit against wildlife NGO head Suwanna Gauntlett alleging discrimination after the latter allegedly denied her access to an ecotourism program the group is launching today in Koh Kong province. The

  • Police raid Siem Reap party, arrest 10 foreigners over ‘pornographic’ images

    A group of 10 foreign tourists appeared in court today after being arrested for producing “pornographic” photos in Siem Reap town on Thursday, while dozens more were detained temporarily and let go after being lectured on their behaviour, according to authorities. A report posted to the

  • Hun Sen’s in-law removed from RCAF after cockfighting rings raided

    Thai Phany, the nephew-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen who is accused of running two large cockfighting rings, has been removed as a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Phany, formerly a one-star brigadier general, was removed by royal decree on December 19, according to

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially