The city will soon have buses that are operated and owned by women.
According to the Kochi Corporation officials, the project that was mooted in the earlier budget is expected to become a reality within the next three months.
Three buses with a capacity of 27 people costing Rs 17 lakh each will be purchased by the Corporation and the Kudumbashree members will be given lessons in driving the buses from next week.
“We have already selected a five-member crew for each bus. Two members each will be trained to drive. They have already acquired a four-wheeler licence. We have also asked them to take the heavy licence training from their home towns which will be over soon,” said Urban Poverty Alleviation Department(UPAD) officials.
The officials added that they have received Rs 9 lakh from the Plan Fund of the Kochi Corporation.
Meanwhile, the district-level Kudumbasree Mission has sanctioned Rs 5 lakh each to purchase the buses. “Only paper works remain and we have been promised that we would receive the funds soon,” the officials added.
The owners of the buses will contribute five per cent of their share for the purchase of the bus.
Earlier, the Kochi Corporation had approached several banks for loans.
“A consensus has been arrived and the banks have agreed to provide `2.5 lakh each as loan for the project. The buses will be purchased at a subsidy of `3 lakh. Meanwhile, we have also approached sponsors who could fund the project. Once, their funding is also received, all hurdles for the project will be cleared,” said Development Committee Standing chairman T J Vinod.
Initially, when the project was mooted, there were hardly any takers. “Manning and operating the buses are difficult tasks. When we spoke to the Kudumbasree members, they were apprehensive about competing with their male counterparts. However, we were able to instil confidence in them which is a positive sign,” said UPAD officials.
Auto rickshaws driven by Kudumbashree women are currently being operated under the UPAD project.