DTC to hire women drivers first time

Decision comes after recent rape raised questions on women's security in city

The Delhi Transport Corporation is hiring women bus drivers for the first time, a decision that comes close to a rape in a cab which has sparked a fresh debate over safety of women in public transport vehicles.

The corporation has also relaxed the qualification norms for the initial hiring of women drivers who will be trained before getting a heavy motor vehicle driving licence. For men applying for the post of DTC drivers, possession of a HMV driving licence and three years’ driving experience is a pre-condition.

“The process of recruiting women is likely to be completed by February,” said DTC spokesman R S Minhas.

DTC Manager (Personnel) Jagdish Chand said, “An aspiring woman driver from the general category needs to have studied up to class 10 and should not be older than 40 years.”

Officials said they have not set any target on the number of women drivers they want to recruit. “The more the better,” said an official, pointing to a regular demand of about 500 drivers daily due to retirement of regular staff and absentee contractual drivers.

Whether the women drivers will be deployed in buses ferrying schoolchildren, ladies special buses or any particular route has not been decided yet.

“We will come to this issue at the next stage. First, we want to identify and recruit good women drivers,” said the official, adding deploying women drivers on 200 buses equipped with CCTV cameras was also an option.

Though officials refuse to directly link the recruitment of women drivers to the outrage of the December 5 rape of a woman in a cab, the entry of women drivers is likely to add to the sense of security among women commuters who use the public transport buses during hours when there are few commuters in the vehicles.

The vacancy is open only to those women drivers who hold a valid commercial light motor vehicle licence issued by the Delhi government’s Transport Department.

“We are looking at women cab drivers who would want to take on a new challenge and better work conditions,” said a DTC official.

The corporation plans to hire the women drivers on contract and train them for six months to qualify as HMV driving licence applicants.

S P Singh, senior fellow of the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training, welcomed the DTC initiative.

“Women drive buses abroad. And generally, women drivers are considered to very disciplined,” he said.

Sources in the state government said the DTC always faces problems in getting enough applications for drivers’ post. On top of it, a bulk of those who apply get rejected in the medical tests.

“In one of the driver recruitment process which ended on September 19, DTC attracted 951 applications. Of these, 261 drivers were appointed promptly and other applications were taken up for screening,” said an official.

The DTC’s problems have been aggravated by indiscipline among contractual drivers who do not report on duty on time or take frequent leaves without information.

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