With a cold weather front approaching in the next few days, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration on November 28 distributed blankets, coats and cash to 300 cyclo-drivers – most of whom are elderly and poor.
Municipal governor Khuong Sreng said that in the near future, the weather is expected to get very cold, which can have a negative impact on the lives of people, especially the elderly and children.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 23 recommended that all capital and provincial authorities across the country focus on the health of the elderly and the poor and needy by providing them with coats, blankets and mosquito nets.
“As municipal governor and chairman of the board of the Cambodian Cyclo Foundation, I would like to donate one winter coat, one scarf, one blanket and 50,000 riel [$12.50] to each of the 300 cyclo drivers ... for use during the upcoming cold weather,” he said.
Sreng advised the cyclo-drivers to continue to follow the Ministry of Health’s three dos and three don’ts guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Lim Heng, a 67-year-old cyclo-driver from Kandal province’s Koh Thom district, has been riding a cyclo in Phnom Penh since the 1990s. He told The Post that the gifts were very valuable to him because they would help keep him warm as the cold season approaches.
He said that Covid-19 made their livelihoods as cyclo-drivers almost impossible and that they had to live from hand-to-mouth because there were no tourists or goods to transport.
“I am really happy with the gifts ... They are very helpful to me as a cyclo-driver while I try to make a living,” he said.
Lim Heng added that since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, on some days they have not been able to earn any money – not even 5,000 riel – to buy food. But as a member of the cyclo foundation, he received a daily allowance of 7,000 riel for basic living expenses like food.
The foundation was established by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2018 with the mission of preserving the traditional use of cyclos in Cambodia by improving the livelihoods of their drivers. The foundation currently has 320 members.
Im Sambath, president of the Cyclo Conservation and Careers Association, said the total number of cyclo-drivers in Phnom Penh was estimated at nearly 400 but about 60 of them had yet to register or fulfil the required conditions to become members of the foundation.