VIJAYAWADA: To ensure safe travel by women on the city roads, the state government is coming out with a novel concept - ‘She Autos’ - autorickshaws exclusively for them and driven by woman drivers.
Vijayawada is one of the three cities in the state chosen for this pilot project. Tirupati and Vishakhapatnam are the other two cities that have been selected for this programme. In another couple of months, women can travel safely in these ‘She Autos’. Incidentally, the ‘She Auto’ services will be available round the clock.
According to the official sources here, in the first phase in Vijayawada, 120 women have been enrolled so far for the one-month training programme, where they will be taught driving on city roads. They will be provided driving licences after completion of the training.
The state government has tasked the municipal corporations, the MEPMA and the transport department to identify the interested urban unemployed young girls and women for the project.
“As many as 120 women candidates have approached the Urban Community Development wing in Vijyayawada Municipal Corporation. After the training session is over, they will be subjected to a driving test and those passing the test will be given driving licences”, said VMC Commissioner G Veerapandian.
As there were no government institutions to provide training for the women, the VMC had called for tenders and the training programme would be started in the next 20 days. Apart from imparting driving skills, the training programme would also include physical fitness training for the selected candidates, the commissioner added.
“Those who already have knowledge of driving with one-year driving experience on the city roads and possessing driving licences are eligible for direct recruitment under the programme. We want more women to come forward and participate in the the free training programme. We are getting a good response from the women, especially from women’s SHG members,” the commissioner further said.
He explained that the government would provide the auto-rickshaws to the women at a subsidised cost of ` 30,000 to Rs 40,000 whereas each auto-rickshaw cost ` 1.6 lakh. MEPMA would reimburse 7 pc interest on the loan amount if the beneficiaries repaid it within the stipulated time, he added.