It was meant to be a project ‘by women for women’, especially to ensure safety of women while commuting to their workplaces.
Instead this much-touted project of the Ludhiana Administration to start women-operated e-rickshaws in the city has partially taken off with only four of the total 11 e-rickshaws plying on the roads even nine days after the launch.
It was planned that the battery-operated vehicles will be stationed outside girls’ colleges and densely-populated areas. But with such four e-rickshaws plying in the city, purpose of the project has not been achieved so far.
Following an embarrassing collision between two e-rickshaws during the launch ceremony on August 2, Ludhiana deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat decided that the e-rickshaws won’t be allowed to operate until the women drivers were fully trained. The rearlight of an e-rickshaw was broken in the collision, which reflected lack of confidence among some of the women operators.
Bhagat said, “After it was observed that women drivers have not been fully trained, we have sent them to the workshop, so that they can be trained again. Some of them have not attended all classes. And since the vehicles are difficult to manoeuvre, we can’t take any chances. All 11 e-rickshaws will be on the road, once the drivers are trained and confident. At present, only four to five rickshaws are plying.”
At the launch, where Punjab irrigation minister Sharanjit Dhillon was the chief guest, the women drivers were seen struggling to handle and reverse the eco-friendly vehicles. Even a women driver hit an e-rickshaw into a stationery Bolero jeep belonging to a government official.
The scheme was announced to be launched on Baisakhi. But, lack of qualified women for training delayed the launch as the Ludhiana Administration, which is facilitating the project, was looking for women who could be trained.
The drivers were also seen forgetting keys in the vehicle after getting out of it, and were repeatedly reminded by the officials present to take the keys along.
Sources said even though some women drivers started taking training a week before the launch, they were called for the launch. The women drivers took two-month driving training at a Maruti workshop and then at a Hero group workshop.