As one of only six female pedallers in the male-dominated trishaw industry in Malacca city, Humaira Bt. Norezan, 21, certainly draws much attention. In the job for three years now, Humaira has gotten used to the pleasant surprise of her passengers.
She shared, “They are always amazed to learn that I am one of the rare female pedallers. Nevertheless, they are very supportive of my job and in return, I am not only taking them from Point A to B, I also try to be a good tour guide and introduce them to my city.
“I enjoy my work because I get to meet new people every day. However, I would not say that it is an easy job as it is obviously physically demanding. Also, although I know the city like the back of my hand, I do have to keep updated with the latest tourist attractions, especially top spots for the best local delicacies.”
Humaira did not just wake up one day and decided to be a trishaw pedaller. After spending three years helping the family around the house, she decided to follow her father’s footsteps. Former security guard Norezan Md. Yusoff, 48, has been working as a pedaller for five years now. Pedalling from 8am to 3.30pm daily, he earns about RM3,000 a month, multiple times higher than his pay as a guard at a local school.
Unlike her father, who also serves as muadhin at their neighbourhood surau in Kampung 7, Malacca, Humaira works full-time from 10am to 6pm, bringing home an average income of RM200 per day.
Besides father and daughter, other family members in the business are Norezan’s two sons, a stepson and a son-in-law. Joining them recently is Norezan’s younger brother, Norazli, 39. Like the other 357 pedallers within the city, this family of seven pedallers have made A’Famosa Fort their base, rain or shine, waiting for passengers who may require their transport.
Humaira’s mother, other siblings, nephews and nieces are also all scattered around the historic area to sell toys and other items to tourists. It is almost like a family day out for them on Sundays, when Norezan’s all seven children, seven grandchildren and in-laws come by A’Famosa Fort.
According to Norezan, all trishaw pedallers are licensed under the Malacca City Council at an annual fee of RM25. He continued, “Pedallers should know the city well to give a positive experience to their passengers, most of whom are tourists trying to discover what Malacca has to offer. Sometimes, our passengers enjoy the sights so much that they extend their ride. Fare is only RM40 per hour.”
As a trishaw pedaller, Humaira and her fellow colleagues face many challenges that would affect their income, including the weather. On off-peak days, Humaira, who stopped schooling after Form 3, earns as little as RM50 despite the long hours that she puts in.
Still, at this point, she is contented with life and does not see herself doing anything else but pedal her heavily decorated Hello Kitty trishaw alongside her family members and proudly showing off the historic city of Malacca to tourists.
Note: An edited version of this article [Pedalling a Family Tradition] was published on 21st Nov, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.
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