During my stay in Antsirabe, I had the opportunity to visit a little workshop named “Garage Vony”, a rickshaw manufacturer.
Since 2003, rickshaw as a mean of transport has been considered as not respecting human rights. So the Commune of Antsirabe launched the “cyclopousse” – a rickshaw pulled by a bike -, and the taxi “Kinga”. Yet, “traditional” rickshaws are the mainly taken by the Antsirabe citizens. A reason why I was interested in visiting a rickshaw manufacturer.
I tell you, everything I saw in this Garage Vony amazed me. The little workshop was a mess :D because everything was made in it… I mean EVERYTHING (well… almost) even the wheels, the screws, the welding…
Enjoy the pics ;)
The couple, Emile and Vony are the owners of the workshop, they prefer to call it Garage since rickshaws are mean of transport in Antsirabe. They started this business in 1990. Emile’s parents were carts manufacturers in the beginning. Then, Emile, a self made man, took over from his parents, and began to make rickshaws.
This “Garage”, with 6 workers – all relatives – (including Emile and Vony), can sell around 10 rickshaws per month. A rickshaw costs Ariary 180,000. They mostly make rickshaws for customers outside Antsirabe since the market there had been closed by the Commune since 2004. During my visit, they were contracting for the Red Cross. 24 rickshaws will be distributed in some cut-off areas to transport sick people to the health center (there is no hospital).
They mostly make rickshaws for customers outside Antsirabe since the market there had been closed by the Commune since 2004.
As I mentioned earlier, the Commune has decided to launch the cyclopousse and the taxi Kinga in order to eradicate the traditional rickshaws which show image of slavery. Since 2003, each rickshaw must have a registration number, have a license, pay taxes and the driver must pass an exam of the Highway Code. No more licenses nor registration numbers were delivered by the end of 2004 which explains that only a few people still buy new rickshaws. These few customers come to Garage Vony because their rickshaw needs some repairs or is completely ruined so they need a new one but will keep the same registration number and license.
Now, the main customers, most of the time individuals or hotel owners, of the Garage come from Antananarivo, Farafangana, other places but Antsirabe. The family can not save much money as before but have only enough to buy basic needs. Vony sincerely hopes that this market in Antsirabe will open again.
I was… uh… AM among the people who dislikes taking a rickshaw ride because I sincerely believe it is inhuman. Then I met Gilbert, a rickshaw driver, who explained that he really enjoys his job and without passengers he would come back home in the evening with nothing for his family. “This job made me strong and stay young (… laughs… ) because of the physical efforts. I can’t find a better job than being a rickshaw driver”, says Gilbert. Unluckily, some of his “friends” could not get registration number nor license and now, became smugglers.
We never know, you may be interested in contacting Garage Vony for another report or for ordering a new rickshaw. Here is the adress: Ivory Lot 17 A 116 C Antsirabe I. You can also call the number +261 32 49 643 34 . You will see, they are really nice and are doing great work.