Women not keen to drive taxis

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - The Taxis for Women pilot project is facing problems, just two months after its launch, because women are not interested in becoming taxi drivers.

Koperasi Pengangkutan Put rajaya dan Cyberjaya Bhd secretary Mohd Salleh Mat Zin said the demand for taxis driven by women was high, especially in Putrajaya, but it was proving near impossible to get women to drive.

"Women are just not interested in becoming taxi drivers. Like it or not, there is still this stereotype that jobs as drivers are meant only for men," he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

 The cooperative is one of three participating companies in the Taxis for Women project launched on Nov 26 last year, by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

The other two companies are Destination Transport (M) Sdn Bhd and Zalnas Sdn Bhd. Salleh said the cooperative was considering paying for the public service vehicle licence for women interested in becoming taxi drivers.

"Priority for leasing our vehicles is given to women as the demand for female drivers is very high. We hope women will change their negative perception about being drivers."

He said out of almost 300 taxis under the cooperative, only four were driven by women.

The pilot project, launched in the Klang Valley, is aimed at providing safe public transportation for women by having women drivers.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Heng Seai Kei had earlier said that the service would also help create job opportunities for women, especially single mothers, housewives and pensioners, looking for another source of income for their family.

Echoing Salleh's sentiments, Destination Transport managing director Datuk Aslah Abdullah said women needed to be educated about the job.

"We want to urge women not sure about the nature of the job to come to us so that we can assist them accordingly.

"Not only will we get you to become responsible drivers, but we will also love to share with you how to turn the job into a money-making one."

Aslah said the company had prepared 50 taxis for the project, but so far only five had been taken up.

A Zalnas spokesman said there had been many enquiries, but not many women were applying to become drivers.

Out of about 500 taxis, Zalnas has only two women drivers.

To encourage more women to take up the job, the ministry will be conducting two workshops in the Klang Valley this month.