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Kolkata to get its first women taxi drivers

City’s Muslim women form self-help group to start service

Gulf News

Kolkata: At a time when the safety of women in public places has become a national concern, the West Bengal government is all set to give taxi permits to women which they believe will enhance security and provide livelihood to hundreds of women who have the courage to get behind the wheel.

According to state transport minister Madan Mitra, “the government has decided to give taxi permits to women who are interested to take on the challenge. I have asked few women who have come to me to form self-help groups of Muslim women whereby apart from other facilities. We will also provide them with financial assistance from West Bengal Minorities Development & Finance Corporation.”

Ministry officials say the state government is considering a proposal to open driving schools across the state for women only, which they believe will encourage a lot more females to learn to drive and take up the jobs.

“Women can form various self-help groups which not only help them overcome various bureaucratic process but also ease the process of obtaining loans from bank at a much lesser cost due to the various government programs. Also the availability of women drivers will mean more security for women [passengers] who are afraid to take a cab after dark. The government will also encourage them to open a radio taxi service especially for women,” said an official.

Kolkata police have also joined in the initiative, terming it a game-changer in providing security for women in the city.

“Women who have to work late, especially in sectors like Information Technology and airlines, will be relieved if they are driven home late by women drivers.

“We will also provide [the drivers] additional training so they can provide safety to themselves and their passengers,” said a police official.

“It will be great to have women taxi drivers in the city,” said Priyam Sengupta, a husband of a woman pilot.

“At times I am really worried about my wife being driven by male drivers at late hours.

“Women are in all spheres of work. There is no harm if they join this profession and make our city safer.”