Aug 29, 2014

Law Sought To Bind Firms To Provide Transport To Women Staff


KARACHI: Highlighting concerns over an acute shortage of public transport vehicles nowadays, speakers at a meeting held on Wednesday asked the government to enact a law making mandatory for all organisations and companies working in the private and public sectors to provide pick-and-drop transport facility to at least their female employees.

There was also consensus in the meeting that the government should immediately take notice of transport problems male and female workers were facing on daily basis and introduce large buses that have a big section reserved for women commuters.

The meeting was arranged by the Working Women Welfare Trust to discuss transport issues being faced by female workers at a local hotel.

The meeting participants that mainly comprised women employed with various organisations shared their problems while travelling in public transport vehicles and said that matters especially for women commuters had only gone from bad to worse over the time. The situation, they said, had forced many to look for costly transport solutions.

It was also said that incidents of misconduct had increased in public vehicles and there was a need that the government ensure implementation of laws.

“Provision of safe public transport should be the government’s top priority because that ensures increased productivity at workplace and better economic growth,” said Humaira Qureshi representing the trust.

Regarding efforts to address female workers’ issues, she referred to an anti-women bill that was to be introduced as an amendment to the labour law in president Pervez Musharraf’s time but was withheld when women protested against it.

The bill allowed the employer to keep a female worker for work after sunset with the condition that transport would be provided to the employee.

“The bill was stopped on the public pressure but later was approved as part of the finance bill next year,” she said, adding that later a survey showed that many employers were not providing the night transport facility.

The findings of a survey carried out some years ago were also shared with the audience during the meeting. It showed that more than 90pc women workers supported the launch of a female-only transport vehicle in the city while 87pc favoured extending the space reserved for women in buses.

About 94pc women surveyed expressed the opinion that transport issues were affecting their mental and physical health. Frequent traffic jams, lack of public transport, increase in public transport fare, men’s interference in women’s compartment, misbehaviour of drivers and bus conductors and playing of music in public transport were identified as major transport problems by women.

SP Central Traffic Masooma Changezi said that public transport was practically non-existent in the city these days that was the major reason why all commuters were facing so many troubles.

She urged women to show courage when they decided to work in the field and let no one misbehaved with them. She also cited the law that prevented men from entering women’s compartment in buses.

“Under this law, 300 bus drivers were fined and eight buses were stopped from plying in July this year. Everyone knows that Qingqi is an unsafe mode of transport and the traffic police had also started taking action against them but the other party went to the court and got a stay order against the police drive,” she explained.

The speakers regretted that the government always came up with the excuse that it lacked funds when it was asked to launch projects that directly benefitted the disadvantaged sections of society.

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