Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bendi, a traditional transport vehicle


Before the invention of internal combustion engine and car, people travelled everywhere by riding horse, donkey, camel and even elephant. Although they do not emit toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, and chlorine, these "transport vehicles" are not interesting in a fast moving world anymore. In some third world countries, people still use horse or donkey drawn cart as transport vehicle. In Europe and the United States, horse-drawn cart are used for tourists travelling around a city or town. They do not function as the main transport vehicles.

We have seen that the soaring fossil fuel price triggers the rapid development of alternative fuel such as bio-diesel and bio-ethanol. Such development needs technology to implement. Most villagers in third world countries do not have the technological capacity to develop bio-fuel. They cannot afford to buy cars or trucks either. So, the easiest way to get a transport vehicle is by utilising their livestock as car or taxi.

If we travel to Minahasa highland in North Sulawesi, we can see bendi roaming around the towns. Bendi is a horse drawn cart. Thousands of bendi could be found in Minahasa region between 1980s and 1990s when most of the town dwellers could not afford to buy motorcycles or cars. Their number was decreasing in the past few years as the public transport vehicles such bus and taxi that consumed low cost fuel offered cheaper fare. The above picture shows how a bendi is used as commercial taxi in Sonder village of Minahasa region, the province of North Sulawesi.

Now, when the soaring price of fossil fuel has become everyday reality, the number of bendi is expected to rise again. Bendi will be more competitive because it only needs grazing for re-fueling.

To attract people to ride this traditional vehicle, bendi owners decorate their cart with glittering ornaments and colorful paintings. The only annoying problem people face when riding bendi is its speed which is far lower than taxi or bus..

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