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Handcart Drivers

Handcart Drivers

At farmers’ markets handcarts are the primary means for delivering goods in bulk. They and their drivers are indispensable to vendors and shoppers alike.

Handcart drivers are usually men, whose back-breaking work involves loading hundreds of kilos of goods to carry them from one location to another.  These drivers nimbly weave through crowded walkways and streets with generally compliant pedestrians, who know the unwritten rule that handcarts have right of way.  

Enterprising owners modify their handcart to make a mobile shop. This allows them to do business at several locations and even on the move.
Handcarts are also people carriers. The drivers often do a brisk business during the rainy season when streets are under water, shuttling commuters.  Passengers however need to be agile enough to get on and off the cart safely.

 What does it take to be a handcart driver? Based on observation a few things are obvious.  To do the job, one must have excellent coordination to manage the steering wheel and breaks while using one’s force to push the cart.  Handcart drivers love the ‘great outdoors’ regardless of the weather. They are generally quite slim, which belie their strength and capacity to manage heavy loads. Staying cool as possible takes priority over dressing up and their customers understand this.

Surprisingly, although the job is physically strenuous, it is not uncommon to see drivers who have long past their youthful years still at work.
When next you have the chance, have a chat with a handcart driver to learn more about their vocation.


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April 2020.