Toll plazas get a taste of women empowerment
Women appear to be breaking the glass ceiling by manning even remotely located toll plazas on highways in Uttar Pradesh.
The job was considered fit only for men till recently due to everyday instances of hooliganism at the plazas, most of which are located in far-flung areas.
But now the sight of young and confident women braving risks to collect toll from users, including ‘notorious’ truckers, is no longer uncommon in Uttar Pradesh. The National Highway Authority (NHAI) is ensuring that women staffers are deployed at some toll-plazas as a mark of women empowerment.
“We do not have information on how many women toll collectors are working on how many toll plazas since the staff deployment is done by the contractors concerned but many plazas are manned exclusively or partially by women,” said Abdul Basit, NHAI head of UP’s western region.
For example, Uaska in Orai, Siwaya in Meerut, Joya in Moradabad are some of the 48 NHAI toll-plazas in UP, where women staff collect toll. “We have 18 women toll collectors at the Usaka plaza,” said Raghuvansh Pandey, the incharge
“As many as 20 women staffers have been deployed at the Siwaya plazas built and operated by a foreign firm,” said NHAI Meerut project official BK Singh.
The practice of contractors deploying women collectors at the plazas began on International Women’s Day last year after the NHAI issued a circular in this regard on February 22, 2018.
“To celebrate International Women’s Day, regional offices should explore the possibility of deployment of all women collecting staff in day shift on at least one toll plaza near city area, considering women safety issues,” the circular said. Taking a cue from the NHAI, other road agencies are also exploring the possibility of deployment of women collectors at their plazas. The UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), for instance, has decided to make a beginning in this regard very soon on the Agra-Lucknow expressway.
“On six of the 13 toll plazas on the Agra-Lucknow expressway, we will soon deploy some women toll collecting staff in the first phase to promote women empowerment in the state,” a UPEIDA official revealed.