Public bus service introduces female conductors
* Two en route, four under training
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: A local bus service owned by private company MAAKS has signed on two young girls to be the first female fare collectors in Lahore.
Mehro Abbas and Zile Huma started their job last week and are serving on route number 33 of the bus service. Four more girls are under training and will soon begin working. The company plans on recruiting a total of 60 girls.
M Asif Khurshid, MAAKS operations manager, told Daily Times that the company believed in empowering women and welcomed more girls to join. “We guarantee complete protection and a good environment to the girls,” he said.
“A male assistant is on board with them at all times and a movie camera is used to monitor commuters. Both female collectors have been given mobile phones to use in case of an emergency,” he said, adding that the company was considering hiring a female supervisor for the girls.
Training officer Muhammad Afzal Cheema said their training included learning about traffic laws and dealing with customers.
Abbas and Huma, both aged 20, are not only confident about the job, but determined to be the first female public transport drivers. “Women should enter every field,” said Abbas.
“We got great feedback from commuters, especially women and old men,” said Huma. “This is a nice experience. All women should be brave enough to take on any kind of job,” they said. “We want to set an example for society.”
Both girls are matriculated and worked in a marketing company for about two years. One has seven brothers and sisters and the other one has nine. The company pays them between Rs 6,000 and 6,500 monthly and plans to give them medical benefits as well.
They are not the first women to work as fare collectors in Pakistan. Another bus service in Wah Cantt has hired women to work as fare collectors, but they only work in the women’s section. Women are also working at petrol pumps and one girl also drives a rickshaw.
MAAKS Metro (Pvt) Ltd started its services in the city on April 9 with 25 buses. It has a permit for six routes and hopes to expand to 135 buses in a couple of months. It is owned by a businessman in Sargodha.