If officials working behind the rollout of the Shetaxi service were worried that just five cars to begin with would not garner visibility for the service, they were wrong.
The inauguration of the service in front of the Kanakakunnu Palace grounds here on Sunday belied all their anxieties.
Apart from road blocks and slight confusion over the route of the first trip, the launch of the service was a colourful affair. Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer and Manju Warrier, actor, flagged off the service.
The 24x7 cab service aims to address women’s safety issues, empower them and promote entrepreneurship. Though the government still has a long way to go to create a safe environment for women, this is a solid first step that will be built on, Mr. Muneer said.
He lauded the Gender Park for implementing the scheme on time, and added that other activities being implemented by it, such as construction of a women-friendly centre on 20 acres of land in Kozhikode, would be launched in 2014.
The Minister agreed with Sabriye Tenberken, founder of Kanthari International, who was one of the guests, that in time, it must be possible to evolve into a “We Taxi” service that did not require segregation of this sort as a prerequisite for safety. Posts on a social networking site about the scheme had prompted people from across the country to suggest that it be replicated all over, Ms. Tenberken said.
Mr. Muneer officially declared Ms. Warrier as the goodwill ambassador of the programme. Transport Commissioner Rishiraj Singh launched the website and logo of the “Shetaxi” service.
K. Muraleedharan, MLA, inaugurated the call centre by placing the first call. Gender Park officials said that they had applied for the toll-free number 543 for calling the service.
P.T.M. Suresh, Special Officer of Gender Park; Mayor K. Chandrika; V.N. Jithendra, Social Justice Department Director; Sindhuja Varma, vice-president of eWIT at Technopark; Abhilash Pillai, chief executive officer of Rain Concert Technologies, which is managing the fleet and safety equipment; and Ram Suresh Akella, Head, Commercial Business, South, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd; were present.