Phasing of the project

In the past few days we have been discussing the nature of how this project will continue. The feedback has been incredible and the implications of the project are growing rapidly.

On Friday Jess, Kate and I went to meet with Virin at Manav Sahdna to discuss options for the future and how the new design would be incorporated into the ngo and into the community. From this conversation three aspects were clarified:

Longevity of project and continuing innovation

We discussed the way in which we would structure a loan or alternative rental scheme. The amount the riders pay at the moment to rent is Rs.20/day, 6 days/ week hence around Rs.480/month. The current cost of a rickshaw is Rs.6500 (the cost we are working to) so they would be able to pay it off in approximately 7 months. At this point a continuing scheme would be offered either as a savings strategy or as an ongoing payment for upgrade every three years. These trikes need ongoing maintenance and the conditions of working are so harsh that their life should be around three years… of course it is not and you still see rickshaws out and about that have been around for twenty-thirty years. The trade off is the driver’s health.

The phased system allows them to continue to invest and will have the added income of selling/trading in their old rickshaw every three years. This also acts as a driver for innovation in the design. This means that the unit cost can be raised which allows for the parameters to change; one can then look at human powered batteries, changing the materials (get rid of steel!) and creating ongoing community facillitation. This will be an adaptive process within the community. Another added benefit is that this creates added income as a livelihood investment rather than straight profit, dealing with issues of alcoholism and how one makes sure the benefit is transferred to the whole community.

There are reactionary arguments with this of overly controlling a community and taking power away from them to create their own future. Implementing a comprehensive “plan” is plied full of your own beliefs of what is good and what is development; let alone many assumptions of the community and ways of living. The implied concern within this is that the community does not evolve and sustain itself, and who are we to say we know what is best?

I think the only avenue to deal with this is by making the project community based, at every point asking and transferring the local knowledge and ways of living into enhancing the design of the rickshaw and the socal innovation objectives.

Method of Initial Implementation

The major question that arose was who is the middle man? (see kate’s post)…particularly issues of heavying, police protection and other benefits provided by the mysterious middle man. According to the food delivery man Kalpesh, the middle man was not so bad, the police did not harrass the rickshaw wallahs however questions do arise…

How do you move away from the existing system and how do you factor in the non-transparent elements of culture and community? How do you factor in the things you do not understand? What are the repercussions of entering the social dynamics?

Viren’s response was we provide this service to three or four guys to test out then offer it to others. By starting small you avoid threatening the middle man and can dampen repercussions. If it is a better deal they will choose it and the social shift will occur simultaneously. If not then the initiative keeps getting tweaked… until it becomes the better option!

We then discussed the idea of a cooperative involving government as a project interest in non-organised labour. This may create benefits such as government ID’s thus giving some element of protection through legitimacy to the riders.

The handover

We discussed with Viren the handover of the project and fleshed out that we had a few ways of carrying on the project. These are through Indicorp (US based) – posting the project on the Manav Sahdna global group and getting a dedicated volunteer to come and do the project for a year. There is also an Australian volunter who continues coming back and forward to India who may be interested in taking over the project.

In regards to design, we discussed continuing NID involvement and suggested the ongoing involvement of RMIT through the continuing exchange program. Viren did raise the point that there is a problem within people shifting and not having one person overseeing the project.

Viren’s organisation is growing at an exponential rate, and is doing incredible work. He is in charge of 35 projects as is so cannot take on another project (however exciting it may be). We agreed to creating a document scope to provide to those interested in recycle wallah.

This conversation was great and allayed our fears of how we could do this project without rushing it or it becoming tokenistic. We are really happy with the way in which it is heading.

2 thoughts on “Phasing of the project

  1. steel, and other things..
    So it would be a good project to build some ongoing commitment to from RMIT – and something that I can facilitate after you guys have moved on to other things- but it also needs someone on the ground so this is something that we will need to think through – there will be a way…

    Steel is by far the best , strongest, cheapest, most repairable, most reliable and lightest (strength to weight wise) as you can get for this type of application with out going into complex and short life laminar composites – which in the hot and humid climate there will not last. The trick is to specify the sections of steel that give you the greatest strength to weight gains – essentially thin wall large diameter tube – or thicker wall small diameter tube for short un-supported lengths.
    You also need to think about triangulating the structure from the primary load bearing points (where the axles meet the rear wheels, where the bottom bracket is etc) so that the frame structure does two things – 1. transfers all of the load through triangulated members directly to the primary load points, and 20 transfers any knocks / shocks from the load points up through the structure in a radial way so that the jolts are dissipated through the attenuation of the structure – you need to think of it like a bridge – steel has a memory and resonance so will vibrate and amplify vibrations towards the extremities of the structure (ie. the handlebars, seat etc)

    From memory I think you could easily reduce the weight of the cycles by one third simply by re specifying the steel sections from being angle and strap to being tube – or replacing non structural load platform steel with a simple timber platform like those used on the hand carts you see on the street

  2. hi liam!
    congratulations on your little lady! and her name?
    also thanks for the comments, particularly triangulation of steel…we were wondering how to reduce stress.
    the assembly point for this stage has capabilitity to order other parts however we have to source. The price is integral to this first stage working to deliver a prototype to test and start the ball rolling.
    what does angle and strap as opposed to tube mean?
    are these parts stock standard and attachable to existing steel work or do you have to change the steel work/joints etc…
    in regards to RMIT we have a few ideas on how to keep it going and provide continuity within the design and social innovation. At this stage NID is not really involved however easy enough to create an avenue and relationship that suits.
    We were going to add this into the scope that we create for NID, Manav Sadhna and RMIT.
    It is key that we are facillitating design within the slum in partnership with the inhabitants so need to integrate the livelihood experience and community consultation into this fully or it cannot grow organically.
    hence why viren is very keen to get someone to manage there for a year; then creating a design consultation process to continue innovation would be great.

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