Opposing a decision to distinguish autorickshaws driven by women by giving them a salmon orange colour, women autorickshaw drivers contested the move calling it unnecessary and unfair. Women drivers have claimed that this is a security threat and the additional costs they incur will be unfair.
A week ago, the state transport department had ordered the autorickshaws driven by women to be painted in a salmon orange colour. It also directed that such rickshaws will be driven only by women.
While focusing on the risk it incurs, Vijaya Rane, a woman autorickshaw driver said, “This is unhealthy. Earlier, passengers would get into our rickshaws without knowing the gender of the driver. This move will suddenly differentiate us from the crowd. Moreover, we guess commuters, especially men, will feel a little hesitant before sitting in our rickshaws.”
Moreover, female drivers also fear of the possible risk it may bring due to the identification of their rickshaws. “I will fear to take my rickshaw in the night with the color on it. I would not want to be stalked or purposefully picked out upon by men in odd hours or stranded roads due to this. I oppose the colouring of the rickshaws,” Nisha Shinde, another driver said.
Adding to the point of allowing only women to drive the rickshaws, Rane added, “Many male drivers are allowed to rent their rickshaws to others when they are unavailable, which allows them to earn money. However, female drivers will be left useless during our difficult times owing to the fact that we cannot rent our rickshaws to other male drivers. We will be left with no means of income then.”
Other auto unions have also proposed to approach the courts on this matter. Kasam Mulani, president of Navi Mumbai Rickshaw Federation, said, “We had been asking to revoke the proposal even before the circular came out. Now that it is, we are planning to approach the courts with revising the matter. On one hand, the state transport allows for a five per cent reservation for female autorickshaw drivers, then on the other, they are distinguished in this manner. We are in complete opposition to this.”
While transport authorities have said the order was passed to give special privilege to the female autorickshaw drivers. “The proposal aims at giving a special privilege to autorickshaw drivers and encouraging more of them to take permits on the field. This will also add to their safety, we believe,” a senior transport official said.