Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen (1st L) is greeted by cyclo drivers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Jan. 13, 2018. Hun Sen on Saturday hosted a lunch for the first time for 308 cyclo operators and launched a Cyclo Foundation. Cyclo is a three-wheeled bicycle-propelled rickshaw that the driver perches on high above the rear wheel, and the passengers in a bucket seat slung between the two front wheels. (Xinhua/Sovannara)
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Saturday hosted a lunch for the first time for 308 cyclo operators and launched a Cyclo Foundation.
Cyclo is a three-wheeled bicycle-propelled rickshaw that the driver perches on high above the rear wheel, and the passengers in a bucket seat slung between the two front wheels.
It used to be a popular mode of transport during the French colonial rule about a century ago, but it's now on the brink of disappearance since people have chosen to travel by a modern and faster means of transport such as taxi and motorized rickshaws.
Speaking before having lunch with them in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen encouraged local authorities to pay attention to conserve cyclos and called on tourists and passengers to ride cyclos, saying that riding cyclos would help reduce environmental pollution.
"According to the history, His Majesty (late) King Norodom Sihanouk, when he ruled the country, considered cyclos as a Cambodia's national identity and called for cyclo conservation," the prime minister said.
"Previously, there were more than 10,000 cyclos, now the number of cyclos has dropped to more than 300," he said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister launched a Cyclo Foundation to support the cyclo operators and he made the first donation of 125,000 U.S. dollars to the foundation and pledged another 240,000 U.S. dollars to the foundation every year.
On the occasion, government officials and prominent tycoons also donated a total of 253,000 U.S. dollars to the foundation.
"According to my estimation, the foundation needs between 240,000 and 300,000 U.S. dollars a year," Hun Sen said.
All cyclo drivers would receive 7,000 riel (1.75 U.S. dollars) a day from the foundation, he said, adding that they would also receive free medical checkup and treatment at all state hospitals.
"I hope that the living conditions of the cyclo operators will be much better than before," he said.