Located Jinrikisha Station at the road junction of Maxwell Road and Tanjong Pagar Road. A favourite tourist spot – Maxwell food centre is located right opposite the building. Although the station was built in 1903, the history of Jinrikisha Station dates back to the 1800s.
Back then rickshaw was the way of transportation, originating from Japan. It requires a person to pull the rickshaw manually to get around to places. Many of these rickshaw pullers were from China. After they migrated to Singapore, many Chinese took on this low wage job. Rickshaw pullers had to work long hours each day under all weather conditions. If they were lucky, they could earn $1 a day. Despite the hard labour and measly income, it was an important job for many Chinese immigrants. The money earned was sent back to support their families back in China.
The rickshaw pullers lived in shophouses with up to 99 other occupants who are mostly rickshaw pullers too.
At its peak, Singapore has over 30,000 licensed drivers providing this service, and the main headquarter was the Jinrikisha Station.
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The primary purpose of establishing Jinrikisha Station was to register, regulate and inspect the increasing numbers of rickshaw pullers. The rickshaw industry was booming during the pre World War 2 period. However, after the world war was over, the British government had banned the use of rickshaw. This was mainly due to concern for safety with the increase in usage of motor vehicles.
Until now, trishaws are still in use at tourist areas for tourists to try a different mode of transport while exploring the city.
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Instead of modern buses and MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), we have men pulling rickshaws to get people from one place to the other. It was once declared by The Straits Times that rickshaw pulling is one of the deadliest jobs due to the physical strain imposed on the puller’s body. Jinrikisha Station may no longer be relevant in recent times, but it is still a reminder of the different past that we had as compared to modern Singapore.