GUWAHATI: Mizoram has finally found a solution to traffic snarls — two-wheeler cabs.
For the state's hill capital Aizawl, traffic jams are common. So, some young people saw a business opportunity in their scooties and motorbikes. Over 500 such cabs are moving around beating traffic jams and making their "passengers" happy. What's more, it is a huge craze among young working women. But that is also because women here are secure sitting behind strangers.
The service was launched in August last year with a group of youths rolling out two-wheelers on the streets. Soon, a number of others, some of them educated, joined in. The fare for the first two kilometers is Rs 20. It goes up by Rs10 every kilometer thereafter.
Mapuia, who quit studies after clearing his Class 12 boards and embraced this trade, said the service helped him eke out a living.
"The two-wheeler taxis, operating in Aizawl, are registered with Mizoram's transport department. There are around 500 youngsters who ride the cabs. As government jobs are not for everyone, we saw in it an avenue to earn a living. Some of us took bank loans to buy two-wheelers. Others had their own two-wheelers. We all are doing brisk business. I make around Rs 500 a day," Mapuia said.
Among the riders is Malsawma, who is a post-graduate from the Indira Gandhi National Open University. "I teach at a coaching centre. Whenever I get time, I go out with my motorbike to earn some extra money," he said with a grin.
John Zothansanga, a writer, said the service is popular as the roads are narrow and there is the perennial problem of traffic snarl in Aizawl.
"It can get you where you want to go and drop you exactly at the place. It takes less time because two-wheeler cabs can criss-cross through traffic jam," he said.
Ruth Vanlalmalsawmi, a local woman, says the two-wheeler cabs are popular mostly among the elderly, who use the service to go to office. Zodingpuii, a working woman, attributes the popularity to cheaper fares compared to that of taxis.
"It's very convenient for passengers in heavy traffic and the fare is much cheaper compared to cabs. I use it almost every day for office commute," Zodingpuii said.
Both the women say they do not have any problem riding pillion with strangers. While Zodingpuii said there has not been any problem, Vanlalmalsawmi said "but one might not feel too secure while hiring the biker cabs at night".
Ever since the service was launched, there has not been a single incident to call the security of women pillion riders into question.