Taxi group welcomes three women in its ranks
Kohima, Oct. 22 (EMN): The Nagaland Two Wheeler Taxi Association (NTWA) for Kohima welcomed in its fold three women on Tuesday in Kohima.
Flagging off a commemorative ride near Kohima Law College, Onen Nenty, a biker who was in the local news recently for riding across the districts of Nagaland, expressed happiness that the association was fielding women in the commercial transport.
Nenty lauded the association for giving the girls “equal opportunities” as their male counterparts while offering them employment. She urged women to break out of their comfort zones and to pursue their professions boldly.
Speaking to reporters after the flag-off ceremony, Evulyn (29) who was born and brought up in Kohima said her mother encouraged her to join the taxi association.
“There are lots of challenges for me, to ride at the back of the guys, following them,” she said. At first she asked a friend to ride on his bike wherever he went. “I fell down,” she said, “but got up.” “Being the only girl riding as a two wheel taxi driver, it’s a very good opportunity and encouraging for me and other women as well,” she said.
Evulyn has MA in Sociology to her credit. She said everything is possible for women. “To ride a taxi, we feel ashamed. At first I also felt uncomfortable. But waiting for a government job is not easy. Better to earn for yourself and do what is right for yourself. Everything is possible,” she told reporters.
She had this message for women: ‘Come out, don’t stay shy. Do what you want. If men can do it (driving taxis), women also can do it. If we ride safe, nothing is a danger for us.’
Peleninuo Liezietsu, another driver will be joining her colleagues. She spoke about how she was staying at home waiting to appear for another examination. Then she realised she wanted to join the association.
“Instead of waiting for government jobs why not embark on a new journey? It’s never too late to start a new thing. It is my first time sitting on a ‘scooty’ as I am learning,” the B.Ed. degree holder said.
“I’m really excited. I don’t see many girls riding two wheels or even cars. There are (fewer) women in it. Society stigma puts us in the kitchen. We belong there and we do well in that area but I don’t think I expect everybody to accept that women can also learn new things and we can also earn by riding a ‘scooty’ or even a taxi. There’s no harm in it,’ Liezietsu said.
‘We can earn through that. We should not think that it’s only for the guys. I think that other girls should also try this (too).”
Viketouü Khoubve, who had just about two-three weeks of training before joining one of the three women in the association, was staying at home after completing her master’s in education. On learning about the two-wheeler association to add women, she expressed excitement.
“I was so excited, since it is my childhood fantasy dream to ride two-wheelers,” she said. “If we look outside Nagaland, there are lots of women riding two wheelers even for their personal work. In our society, there are less women coming up, breaking stereotype and working on the level of men.”
“Through this I want to give a message to all the women that no matter what the job is, if men can do it why not we women do it too. It’s high time for women to come up and do the work that men can do.”
The two-wheel taxi association says there are now 170 registered two-wheel taxis with the induction of the three women now. The women will be allowed to carry only females.
When queried about the employment opportunity the association is offering so far, the NTWA stated that the infrastructure currently can accommodate only to a limit as there is an increasing number of two-wheel taxis in Kohima. Hence, being a commercial profession, if the number of drivers increases, it means a decreased income for them.
As of now, the association has decided to put on hold new applications from interested candidates opting to join the taxis.
However, keeping in mind the plight of new entrants, the association is determined to make necessary arrangements for them in whatever way possible. It has assured to take in the aspiring cab riders if more space is created in the parking zones.
However, with the surge in the number of youths knocking at its door asking for employment opportunities, the association has appealed to the youths to find alternatives too. They are innovative to join any other kind of jobs and in different avenues.
The association decided to continue with the taxi service to cater to the needs of the public as well as be an employment avenue as a top priority even though the government department in concern has yet to issue commercial licenses. The Nagaland Cabinet has approved legalising the two-wheel taxi service on July 28 this year.
The association has extended invitations to interested women willing to learn and ride the two-wheel taxis to come forward for any assistance so that the members may train them. It has assured to give reservation to women, but only to a certain number of quotas.
‘We would want to treat our woman in a special way if there are interested in women who would the drive two-wheel taxis,’ an executive member of the organisation stated. When queried about the response from the passengers about the fare, the official said that the riders had been charging fares ‘based on their conscience’ so far.
The official said they have received complaints from some pillion riders while some have expressed satisfaction with the fare being charged by the taxis. However, if the permit is issued by the RTO, the bike riders are ready to comply with any feasible, logical and practical directives given by the department.
Asked if there had been any accidents, the association replied that so far they haven’t had any major accidents.
For safety, the association insists on yellow helmets as part of the drivers’ uniform. This is mandatory for the members. They also are required to carry extra helmets for pillion riders.
The association also advises its riders to replace motorcycles which are in bad condition. This is for the public and pillion riders’ convenience and safety.