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Tuesday April 23, 2024

Country’s first women-only bus service launched in Karachi

By Our Correspondent
February 02, 2023
A view of Pink Buses standing near the Frere Hall library in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online
A view of Pink Buses standing near the Frere Hall library in Karachi on February 1, 2023. — Online

Female commuters of Karachi now have a dedicated Peoples Pink Bus Service in the city which would run from Model Colony all the way to Tower via Sharea Faisal. The bus service would run free of charge until February 7.

As many as eight women-only buses would run from Malir to Tower at a very minimal cost. The Sindh Transport Department launched the bus service on Wednesday. The inauguration ceremony of the Pink Bus Service was held at the historical Frere Hall. Transport Minister Sharjeel Memon was also present on the occasion.

MPAs Sharmila Faruqui, Marvi Rashdi and Sadia Javed, film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, TV anchors Madiha Naqvi, Rabia Anam and Najia Mir, TV actor Ushna Shah, architect Marvi Mazhar and other prominent women from different walks of life were part of the ceremony.

Labour Minister Saeed Ghani, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Qasim Naveed Qamar, MPA Ghanwar Khan Issran, PPP Leader Najmi Alam, Salman Abdullah Murad, Transport Secretary Abdul Haleem Shaikh, Information Secretary Imran Atta Soomro, Sindh Mass Transit Authority MD Zubair Channa, NRTC Project Director Sohaib Shafiq also attended the ceremony.

Each bus has a total capacity of 50 seats, while two seats are reserved for special women. Female drivers and hostesses have been hired for the bus service. Buses will run every 20 minutes from 7am to 11am and then from 4pm to 9pm, and every hour the rest of the time.

Memon said on the occasion that the PPP leadership has always made policies to empower women. First female prime minister of the Muslim world Benazir Bhutto had founded the first women bank and women police stations, he said.

President Asif Ali Zardari launched the Benazir Income Support Programme during his tenure and gave ownership rights of 25 acres of government land to female farmers so that women could be empowered, he added.

The minister said society can never progress if women are ignored. It is the responsibility of governments to provide a favourable environment to women and provide them facilities so that they can work alongside men and contribute significantly to the development of the country, he said.

Memon said the Pink Bus Service has started with eight buses but this number would be increased and the service would be extended to other areas of Karachi and different parts of Sindh as well.

He said that it is PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s directives to improve the public transport sector in Sindh. He added that PPP Women Wing Central President Faryal Talpur had taken a keen interest in starting a bus service for women in Sindh.

He also said that the transport department has been getting the support of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for the execution of public transport projects.

The transport minister said female hostesses have been hired for the Pink Bus Service, while female drivers will be appointed in a month. He said that Allah Almighty has blessed women with every ability.

He pointed out that women are driving dumpers in Thar. He said our women are flying F16 planes, and this is just a bus. He added that instructions have been given to the NRTC, and soon the entire staff of the Pink Bus Service will be comprised of women.

Ghani on the occasion congratulated the transport department and particularly Memon, who made the Pink Bus Service possible despite his health problems. He said the Pink Bus Service was needed by the citizens of Karachi, and women will now reach their destinations with ease.

He also said that this service is being started with the people’s tax money, so he appealed to the citizens to take care of it as their own property. He added that the transport problem of Karachi is being solved rapidly.

He pointed out that work on the Red Line bus rapid transit project is in progress, while work on the Yellow Line project is going to start soon. He said the public transport system of the city will be improved further in a couple of years.

Earlier, MPAs Sharmila and Marvi Rashdi said that it was an important day for the women of Karachi for the Pink Bus Service being started for them. They said that it was a long-standing problem of working women, but now they will be able to go to work without fear.

Sharmeen, Rabia, Ushna and Marvi Mazhar said the mass transit system in Karachi was a long-standing problem of the general public. They congratulated the city’s people, especially the women. They said the provincial government has taken a major step, adding that this is magic, and that now the women of Karachi will be saved from harassment in public buses.

They demanded that the service be spread throughout the city. Marvi Mazhar demanded that a Pink Boat Service also be started for the islands of Karachi so that the women living there could have safe travelling facilities.