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Public transport: a nightmare for female commuters 

29 Junie 2010 01:15:00

Public transport: a nightmare for female commuters

Sohail Rashid

ISLAMABAD, June 29, 2010: A large number of females who commute daily between twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi for performing their duties and routine work are facing problems due to lack of proper transport facilities. Travelling in public service vehicles is not less than a nightmare for them.

Most women have to travel all by themselves in Suzuki pickups and Toyota Hiace vans usually having only two seats reserved for female passengers. So they have to stand at bus stops for hours for their turn to board public transport.

“I work at a call centre in Islamabad. Every day, I have to change two vans in order to reach my office. Most of the time I have to wait for a long time to get a seat in the van,” said Razia Alvi, a resident of Sadiqabad.

She said that buses are comparatively more suitable for female commuters, but currently no bus service is plying between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. A few years back the Varan Tours started its bus service in twin cities. “This service was quite beneficial for women as its buses had a separate section exclusively for them. However this service was closed down due to some reasons and female passengers were left with no option but to commute in vans and pickups,” she added.

Fazila Rafique, another commuter who was waiting for a van at a stop of Route No. 1-C, told this news agency that she is a schoolteacher and she has to travel daily for going to her school which is very cumbersome for her. “A woman faces numerous problems while travelling in public transport,” she said while wiping sweat from her forehead.

It is also observed that many drivers and conductors show unethical behaviour in the presence of female commuters. They exchange foul words, least caring for female passengers. Due to this attitude of transporters, a respectable person feels uncomfortable in sending her daughter or sister alone in public service vans.

Muhammad Iqbal, a resident of Faizabad, said: “My daughter used to work in a private organisation in Saddar, Rawalpindi. She left her job because she couldn’t manage her own conveyance in the small salary she got and was not willing to travel in public transport as drivers did not prefer to board her on their vans as she had to travel a long distance and due to the misbehaviour of drivers.”

Waleed Awan, a student, said: “I travel daily in public vans and I have to bear the odd behaviour of drivers and conductors almost daily. I know how rude these people are. So I would never allow my sisters to travel in public transport.”

Women are 51% of the total population of Pakistan then why have they such a small quota of two seats reserved for them in public transport? The government should focus on this area as a large number of females have to travel in public transport vehicles. It is the need of the hour to launch a proper transport facility for the public in general and female commuters in particular, so that they may travel with dignity.