Know More About Palestine

Friday Nov. 26, 2010 8:33 PM (EST+7)
Tuk-tuks, cheap fuel edge out donkey carts in Gaza

Read more: transport, Gaza, blockade, economic development

RAMALLAH, Novermber 26 (JMCC) - Donkey carts, an essential means of transportation for many Gazans, are being replaced by a new fuel efficient transport; the Tuk Tuk. This Asian important is a blend of motorcycle and miniature pick up truck is taking the city by storm.

Smuggled by the hundreds from Egypt in recent months, motor rickshaws, also known as tuk-tuks, have taken over congested streets of the Palestinian territory, in part because fuel has become cheaper than donkey feed.

Some just haul cargo. Others have been jazzed up with upholstered seats, colorful canopies and fringed curtains to serve as taxis, school buses or pizza delivery vans. They've become a badge of Gazans' ability to adapt to tough circumstances, including an Israeli border blockade and authoritarian rule by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Tuk-tuks also have helped create some jobs, perhaps making a small dent in unemployment running over 30 percent.

Ahmed Madhoun, who says he can't get a teaching job because he's not a Hamas supporter, bought a tuk-tuk four months ago for $2,200, or roughly what a day laborer would make in four months. Madhoun now earns between $8 and $14 a day distributing merchandise to shops and delivering U.N. food rations.

This week, Madhoun and other tuk-tuk drivers lined up outside the U.N. food distribution center in the Shati refugee camp where just a few months ago, donkey carts would have been waiting to take on sacks of rice and flour.

Economist Mohsen Ramadan said about 20 percent of loan applicants at his microfinance agency want money for tuk-tuks.

Still, the overall economic outlook remains dim in the Gaza Strip. Economic activity picked up after Israel eased the blockade over the summer — in response to international criticism over its deadly raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla — and allowed in consumer goods. But growth is elusive because Israel, citing security concerns, restricts the import of construction supplies and key raw materials, and forbids most exports.

Read more at Associated Press…







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