MSRTC begins training for first of 10,000 women bus drivers in Pune
Training programme was inaugurated by former president Pratibha Patil
Former president Pratibha Patil on Friday inaugurated Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s (MSTRC) initiative to train and employ women bus drivers for its fleet.
While this is Maharashtra’s second attempt after the first one failed to take off in 2017, Patil on Friday inaugurated a driver training programme for 163 newly recruited women.
Selected from various parts of the state, the women will be trained as bus drivers for the state transport undertaking. MSRTC which already has 36,000 male drivers has set a goal of training and recruiting 10,000 women drivers. It already has 4,500 women conductors on its buses.
It is a renewed attempt by the MSRTC to appoint women bus drivers after its first attempt in 2017 when the transport body tried to recruit women bus drivers and conductors, but could only recruit conductors due to legal hurdles.
Speaking at the event Maharashtra’s transport minister Divakar Raote said, “MSRTC could not recruit women drivers because of a rule that drivers needed three years’ heavy vehicle driving experience. But now, the Maharashtra government has scrapped that condition and MSRTC has decided to impart one year’s training to newly recruited women drivers.”
Raote said that after a year’s training, the women drivers will need to clear a qualifying driving test and would only then be eligible for recruitment at various depots.
He said that after a year, people will see women drivers behind the wheels of buses transporting commuters. Of the total 809 applicants, 163 were shortlisted for recruitment, he said.
Calling it a “historic decision by the Maharashtra government”, former president Patil said, “Just as I was identified as India’s first woman president, these 163 women will be identified as the first women bus drivers in the country. It is not easy to drive a heavy bus full of people, but I am sure that these women will make a point,” Patil said while congratulating the state government for recruiting 21 women from the scheduled tribe’s community as drivers.
She suggested that the women drivers should be posted in their home districts and locations close to their homes. Adequate care should be taken about their safety and work environment, she said.
Senior Shiv Sena leader and state legislative council’s vice-president Neelam Gorhe stressed on the need for better sanitation and clean toilets for women. This would be important as Maharashtra will serve as a role model for all states, she said.
MSRTC which already has 36,000 male drivers has set a goal of training and recruiting 10,000 women drivers eventually. It already has 4,500 women conductors on its buses.
Will only marry those who accept our driving profession, say recruits
Excited about their recruitment as drivers, the young women recruits expressed gratitude towards the state government for the opportunity and employment. Some of them said that while their families were worried about their marriage, they were firm that they would marry only someone who would accept them along with their profession of driving.