| Women on wheels in Patna. Telegraph picture |
Ten more would join the league of women auto drivers in the city this month, taking the strength of the brave contingent to 25.
After learning the nuances of three-wheeler driving for three months in a training programme organised by Bihar State Auto Chalak Sangh, they would join the commercial driving profession in the third week of January.
The auto union had earlier trained 15 women. The first batch of seven made the debut in commercial driving in August. Eight more joined the profession in November.
“Our efforts have started showing results. Now, many women are showing their willingness to drive autorickshaws. We are really happy to see this change,” said Rajkumar Jha, the general secretary of Bihar State Auto Chalak Sangh.
“In the third week of January, 10 trained women would start driving vehicles commercially. The first two batches had started driving auto from Patna Junction. Our third batch would start plying three-wheelers from Mithapur bus stand, Karbighaiya and near Gandhi Maidan. We have changed the venue this time because we want to make the presence of women auto drivers felt everywhere. It will send a strong message of women empowerment,” said Jha.
According to him, the auto union helped women trainees in the best possible way. “We assisted them in getting loans from a private bank for buying autorickshaws. The bank provided loan between Rs 1.5 and Rs 2 lakh to each trainee. Each woman had to contribute Rs 10,000-20,000. They have to pay between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 per month towards repayment of the loan,” he said.
“The women auto drivers earn around Rs 12,000-15,000 per month. After paying their instalments, they can save some money every month,” said Jha, adding that the auto union had provided martial arts training to the women auto drivers for their safety.
Thirty-nine-year-old Munni Devi hopes for a better future for her three children with her income from driving autorickshaws. While her daughter is pursuing a hotel management course, one of her sons is a BTech student. The other studies BCom.
“My husband runs a grocery store. His monthly income is around Rs 6,000-7,000. He took a loan for paying the tuition fee of my children. Now I would be able to help him in running the family,” said Devi.
Another trainee of the third batch, Neha Verma (29), said: “I am determined to work hard and hope to repay the loan of Rs 1.5 lakh in the next two years or so.”
While the third batch of women auto drivers are bubbling with joy ahead of their new journey, the auto union has big dreams for the women drivers. “We have given an application to the office of Regional Transport Authority for granting permission to us to change the colour of women-driven autorickshaws. We have suggested two colours — yellow and green,” added Jha.