Andhra Pradesh

Visakhapatnam and the distaff bike chauffeurs

Prashanthi Reddy a woman captain of Radipo bike taxi getting ready to ferry a customer in Visakhapatnam.

Prashanthi Reddy a woman captain of Radipo bike taxi getting ready to ferry a customer in Visakhapatnam.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangment

Breaking stereotypes, the tribe of women bike-taxi riders is more than eyeful, and growing

Hopping between two jobs, Prashanthi Reddy, a cheerful 21-year-old zips around the Port City on her two wheeler. Nothing new in that. But what she does is: driving paid passengers to and fro along with delivering food, a profession until recently tagged ‘men’s only’.

Just into her 20s and she is doing it all her way. Perks of the job? No workload, no deadlines, reasonable earning, no boss issues, Ms. Reddy smiled mentioning the fact that she is living the dreams of many.“I have always been someone who likes being answerable to herself. These jobs give me flexible work hours and a lot of freedom,” she asserted.

Hailing a (lady) biker

The bike taxi venture Rapido, founded by IIT alumni Sanka, Rishikesh SR and Pavan Guntupalli in 2015, has driven into Vizag in March 2018. Shortly after, its rival Ola also started its Ola Bike Services. With this, city women have started showing interest in the bike-taxi venture.

Ms. Reddy’s typical day? “It starts around 9 am, when many rush to their offices. Once I drop a few to their workplaces, I login to my food delivery job, satisfying the hunger of Vizagites and again I switch back to my driver’s life at around 5pm,” she explained.

Around ₹ 20,000 per month sparing fuel and daily expenses, and providing her family of four a substantial living standard are Ms. Reddy’s takeaways.

While the number of women bike-taxi drivers in this sector is nothing to write home about - its in single digits - nonetheless, the do-it-yourself attitude is commendable.

Feminine comfort

“I feel very comfortable when I get a woman captain for my ride. I think it’s an excellent opportunity for those who want to do jobs with good wages and flexible timings, considering the multi-dimensional responsibilities of a woman,” said P. Ushashree, a patron.

“Most people get startled at first, followed by the awkwardness for a while and then they go on, appreciating the efforts and wishing us good luck,” said Srivarshini Naidu, another Rapido captain.

Safe and secure

Amidst all the encouragement and support for women to pursue their dreams, there is still a lurking threat being a woman. To ensure a safe ane secure environment for these women, hiring companies are taking several measures.

“The utilization of an intermediary telecom company to mask the mobile number of women captains as well as that of the woman rider has been very effective in providing a better working condition,” explaineds T. Praveen Kumar, manager, Rapido, Visakhapatnam.

A ‘W’ support helpline

Though still few in numbers, a dedicated to ‘women’ support helpline is active 24/7, assisting them in their commute. However, until the sight of women drivers becomes ubiquitous and more acceptable, women riders are encouraged to work within the city limits, that too until 8 in the night added, Mr Praveen Kumar.

Until then, it will be a ride to remember. And, worth remembering.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 8:30:04 AM |

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