Women will have to wait a little longer for the safe and secure transportation facility to begin in the city. Even though Ludhiana administration has shortlisted 15 women — 14 of whom are married — for driving the eco-friendly battery-operated e-rickshaws to be launched in the city, the local authorities are facing challenges in starting their operations.
Firstly, they women have to be trained for driving the e-rickshaws, and secondly their family commitments are preventing them from giving adequate time to the vocation.
The project, which was originally slated to be launched around Baisakhi, is running behind schedule by almost a month.
Ludhiana deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said, “Driving training of the women drivers aged between 24 and 35 will start at Maruti School later this week. Once trained, the women will be self-dependent and free to earn their living by driving the e-rickshaws.”
“As women are more inclined towards riding two-wheelers, it is a major challenge to teach them how to operate e-rickshaws. Women have to be skillful when they are on road and we do not want to take any chances, so they will be given proper training. These e-rickshaws will be stationed mostly near schools and colleges and,” Bhagat added.
The administration is currently working out the viability of the project, as the shortlisted drivers are inquisitive about their working hours. With administration planning to operate the rickshaws throughout the day, some drivers have expressed their inability to work in the afternoon citing family issues.
While 10 e-rickshaws costing around `1 lakh per e-rickshaw will be sponsored by corporate houses under the corporate social responsibility scheme, the administration will hire a total of 20 women to drive them, with two women per rickshaw to work in two shifts a day. Five more women drivers will also be hired soon.
Bhagat said, “Once e-rickshaws hit the roads, the administration will create a joint liability group (account) where women drivers will deposit a part of their earnings, which will be later distributed among them equally as their salary.”
“We will review the feasibility of wages once the rickshaws are finally on roads. We are only facilitating the project and government will not earn any revenue from it. The project is meant to empower the women and help them feel safe and secure while using public transport,” added Bhagat.
COST AND FUNDING
The district administration will create a corpus of funds, along with a bank account, for the self-help group of 15 women who will manage and run the service. The administration is already getting their driving licences made. The self-help group will be given a loan, which could be used for vehicle maintenance, registration, getting a permit and uniforms for drivers.
The e-rickshaws are being sponsored by the corporate sector under the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity. Priced at around `1 lakh per unit, five of these will be provided by Hero EcoTech, five by Avon Cycles and one will be sponsored by FICCI Ladies Organisation.
The e-rickshaws are meant to ply only during daytime, thus raising a question mark over the safety of women while commuting at night.