FOR locals and visitors alike, riding a rickshaw along Durban’s Golden Mile (promenade) is the best way to enjoy the sights and sounds of the bustling city. This unique attraction has been part of the fabric of Durban’s history and continues to this day.
Local rickshaw operator Hloniphani Mdletshe (38) from uMlazi can be seen on the promenade each day with his unique and colorful headdress and merry-go-round to attract customers.
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According to Mdletshe, there were around 2,000 registered rickshaw pullers in 1902, which was Durban’s main mode of transportation around the city center and the harbor.
Mdletshe works seven days a week and often carries tourists, children and occasional locals in his unique rickshaw.
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It is evident from her smile and meticulous attention to detail that Mdletshe takes great pride in her work.
“I had been working part-time as a rickshaw puller since 2008, but this position became permanent in 2017 after I was made redundant,” he said.
The 38-year-old said he maintains the rickshaw himself, often buying springs that cost up to R1,500 and wheels that can cost up to R4,000.
“The municipality of eThekwini sponsored us with the wheels during the World Cup in 2010, but we buy everything ourselves to create these rides. We maintain them to keep them clean. We buy the paintings and the decorations, ”he added.
Mdletshe said being a rickshaw puller means he gets a good practice.
Referring to how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected his livelihoods, Mdletshe said he has faced many hardships.
“The business license costs R 950 per year. Often there are quiet days, when there are few or no customers. Rainy days are the worst because nobody wants to drive and the rickshaws stay parked in their garage, ”he said.
There are a number of different rows of rickshaws along the promenade: uShaka Marine World, Tropicana Hotel, Protea Hotel and Mini Town.
“We encourage the community to come and support our business because we also want to provide for our families. We want our communities to think of us when they budget to come see us with their families and have the best experience in Durban, ”he said.
Prices and routes depend on the distance.
Travel and prices:
– From the Tropicana hotel to the Suncoast casino: 60 R per person
-Local hike (1km): R20 per person
-Tropicana Hotel at uShaka Marine World: R50 per person
-uShaka Marine World at Suncoast Casino: R 130 per person
-Elangeni Hotel to Ushaka Marine World: R100 per person
If you would like to stroll along Durban’s Golden Mile, contact Mdletshe on: 079 585 6750.
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