Sunday, November 27, 2011

omen taxis for vulnerable, too

The "Taxis for Women" service can also be used by the elderly, children and family, says Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Datuk Heng Seai Kie.

"Although priority is given to women, the service could also be a boon to these groups as we believe they are also vulnerable to attacks when left alone with irresponsible male drivers," she told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Heng said the budget taxi service, which only covered the Klang Valley at present, was the ministry's pilot project to see the effectiveness of having such a service.

The ministry will gather feedback for a year before implementing the scheme in other states.

"It is one of our plans to have such a service nationwide. But we have to look at the feedback first to determine any weakness and improve on it before doing so."

These taxis are available on call and there are 50 women drivers in three participating companies -- Destination Transport, Zalnas Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Pengangkutan Putrajaya dan Cyberjaya.

Heng said besides calling up the taxis, women could also hail it on the street when they see a special sticker with the word "TeksiWanita" on the cabs.

She said discussions were underway with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to have all the taxis painted in a uniform colour.

Heng said the taxis were installed with GPS systems and a panic button in case of emergency. Those interested to join the taxi service can call 03-8024 0507, 03-2692 6000 and 03-88884020.

The service received an enthusiastic and positive response. Fairuz Husna Mohd Yusof said the taxi service was a great initiative by the government as it gave women better security, especially those who had to take cabs late at night.

The 24-year-old student at Universiti Teknologi Mara Malaysia, who relied on taxis to get around during her first year, said it had always been risky for women to take a taxi alone with a male driver.

"For a young girl, the stakes are higher as there had been cases of some who had been harassed, molested or raped by taxi drivers in the past."

Hamizah Muhammad, 24, said the service was beneficial for women as it could be a solution to harassment.

She, however, raised concerns on the safety of passengers and the drivers as such taxis could attract unwanted attention, more so with a "TeksiWanita" sticker displayed on the vehicle.

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