Lê Văn Dựa drives his vehicle to pick up nails on the road in Can Tho City. — VNS Photos Đặng Huỳnh
CẦN THƠ — Over the past four months, people of Cần Thơ City have become familiar with the image of an old man driving his motorbike up and down on the road.
What makes him special is the large magnet he tows behind the motorbike rear to pick up nails, helping make other road users safer.
Lê Văn Dựa, 59, resides in Trung Thạch Commne in Cần Thơ City’s Cờ Đỏ District.
Nails and spiky metal pieces are often found on Vietnamese roads and a punctured tire can lead to accidents.
Working as a motorbike taxi driver, he has also seen many people get flat tires and have to walk a long way yo find a mechanic.
“The hardship would be multiple for unfortunate people, especially women, so I want to help them,” Dựa said.
He decided to make a cart-like vehicle with wheels, attach a large magnet to it and hook it up behind his motorbike. Although his family isn't well-off, he spent VNĐ3 million (US$130) on renovating the motorbike.
Dựa performed several tests and found he could collect a lot of nails and other sharp objects.
At first, he didn’t tell anyone in the family about it and just said he had modified his motorbike to pick up nails to improve the family’s income when his wife asked why he was doing such a strange thing.
But soon after she learned the truth and immediately supported him, giving him more motivation to continue the work.
Every three days he drives through Cần Thơ City with the special vehicle and sometimes travels to Sóc Trăng City which is about 60 kilometres away.
Dựa works hard to protect drivers though he isn't paid for driving under the scorching heat.
He said rainy days make his work harder as thunderstorms might cause trees to fall and threaten the lives of road users.
Dựa said he gathered at least nearly 1kg of metal pieces per each trip or up to 3kg some days, an amount of metal that would destroy many tires.
In recognition of his good deed, many people have offered him bottles of water or contributed some money for him to fill his motorbike with gasoline, he said.
Lê Anh Kiệt, a motorbike driver, who lives in Ô Môn District, appreciated Dựa’s action.
“At first, I don’t know what is the cart-like vehicle for. It’s a great idea which would help to remove nails on the highway,” he said, adding that it must be a really kind-hearted person to do so.
Lê Văn Dựa sits on the roadside, taking a short break before continuing his journey.
Lê Thị Sanh, a resident of Ninh Kiều District, agreed: “Not everyone can do like this guy!”
Seeing the effectiveness of Dựa’s work, a local resident gave him a box to hold the metal pieces and other odd things. On its back, a sign says “For a better life”, the meaning behind his actions.
Since he began this charity work, he couldn’t save any money, Dựa said.
All the money he has earned from working was spent on gasoline and repairing the motorbike.
Dựa said he always put a bottle of gasoline in the box at the back of his motorbike to help those in need.
About a dozen people have received his assistance over the past four months.
In the future, he plans to save money to buy inner tubes to could help people whose tires are punctured.
He said he would do the job as long as he could.
In the hot summer afternoon on Nguyễn Văn Cừ Street on Ninh Kiều District, it’s easy to see an old man sat on the roadside, eating a loaf of bread with a glass of cane juice that had drained. Sweat spread over his face after a long journey. He takes a short break to cool off the motorbike and fill his stomach, then continues the journey for a better life for others. — VNS