Tongas give way to chingchis in Pak

Islamabad's hoi polloi will now have to rely on auto-rickshaws, locally known as chingchis.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 14:57 IST

Traditional modes of transport like the tonga ride are making way for more modern means of transport as the VIP culture takes root in Pakistan's capital Islamabad.

Auto-rickshaws, locally known as 'chingchis' or 'chandgaris', have gained popularity here.

PM Shaukat Aziz made a fervent appeal a few days ago to VIPs to follow traffic rules as ordinary citizens, rather than taking to a pompous lifestyle like fish to water.

The government, he said, could resort to drastic measures against erring officials if they refused to abide by the rules.

According to the Daily Times, the government in big cities has banned tongas and urban residents will see them only in movies and photos of the past.

Massive urbanisation and automation are responsible for this change, which has deprived children of urban areas of a smoke-free and well-ventilated conveyance, claims the paper.

In Rawalpindi, funds have been allocated to tonga drivers to help them to purchase auto rickshaws.

"We prefer replacing tongas with auto rickshaws and will provide easy loans to the drivers to purchase rickshaws," said Shaikh Rashid Shafiq, a senior official of Islamabad's neighbouring twin city.

Tonga owners have welcomed this initiative, saying that it has done wonders for their self-respect.

"The government gave me Rs 10,000 to purchase an auto rickshaw as an alternative to the tonga. I used to drive a tonga in Raja Bazaar before tongas were banned from the city. Now, I drive a motorcycle rickshaw on the same route. I feel some sort of self-respect while driving a rickshaw because a tonga driver is given less respect than a rickshaw driver," said a tonga driver.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 14:57 IST