As part of the Kochi Corporation’s efforts to make the city more women-friendly, five women operated auto-taxis were introduced here on Friday. Mayor Tony Chammany handed over the keys to the operators of the ‘Bhagyasree’ auto-taxis to women who are members of the Kudumbasree unit of the Kochi Corporation.
These auto-taxis will offer rides for both male as well as women passengers. Priority will be given to women who have to travel back from work places to their homes.
Mayor Tony Chammany said that the Corporation was mooting an exclusive stand for the women autorickshaw and auto-taxi operators depending on the success of the initiative.
Also, once the share taxi concept is approved and comes into effect in the city, the passengers can make use of the auto-taxi services effectively. “Three people who enter the auto-taxi can share the fare. We have been informed that the concept is being actively considered by the state government,” the Mayor said.
Sheela Cleetus, Anitha Suresh, Archa Madhu, Prabhamani and Sheela are the women owners-cum-operators of the Bhagyasree auto-taxi. Currently, the auto-taxis will operate from Perandoor, Karukapally, Ponekkara and Puthukkalavattom. Discussions are on to allow the auto-taxis to be parked at the autorickshaw stands.
The initiative is also aimed at ensuring employment opportunities for women.
The total cost of the auto-taxi purchase is `11,90,000. The project is aided under the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana scheme .
The Bank of India, Edappally Branch has sponsored the project. The auto-taxis will currently be operated only till evening hours. “Based on the success, it may later become a full-time service,” Nissa, project coordinator of UPAD, Kochi unit, said.
Discussions are on with the railway authorities for starting services on the railway station premises.
Speaking on the bus operated exclusively by the Kudumbasree members, the Mayor said that it would be rolled out soon. They were facing difficulties in acquiring the gap fund for the project. The total gap fund required is `30 lakh.
The BPCL has shown interest to sponsor the project and once we get the funding, the buses can be rolled out, the Mayor added.
Kochi Corporation works standing committee chairman Soumini Jain, health standing committee chairman T K Ashraf, councillors Essy Joseph and Ratnamma Raju, Bank of India Edappally branch manager M A Babu and deputy zonal manager M E Prabhakara Babu were also present at the function.