On April 14 in Palluruthy, Kerala, Vipin's dad needed immediate hospitalisation after he felt severe chest pain. But with lockdown in place, public transport wasn't available. Vipin, a salesperson at a private company, didn't have a vehicle. The only help he got was from She Taxi online. Within 15 minutes of his call, a taxi arrived at Vipin's doorsteps.
"She even didn't ask for any money as I am a BPL cardholder," Vipin said.
Vipin is one of the many who have received help from She Taxi. Pritha's son had recently undergone a major lung surgery at a United Kingdom hospital. A few days back, she wanted to go to a hospital regarding some follow up of his surgery. "I did not have my car with me at that time. I tried all online taxi services like Ola, Uber but could not find any. Then, I found about She Taxi on the internet and requested for one cab. A pink cab with a women driver came in 25 minutes and took us to the hospital," Pritha, told The Logical Indian.
"She waited for us till the time we were in the hospital and dropped us home because we would face difficulty in finding another cab," she added.
Many similar heartwarming stories are circulating in Kerala these days talking about how She Taxi came to their rescue and is turning out to be the first choice for the people looking for any medical aid or emergency services during the nationwide lockdown.
What is She Taxi?
She Taxi is country's first 24x7 for and by women taxi service operating in Trivandrum, Kochi and Kozhikode cities of Kerala.
The Gender Park, an autonomous institution promoted by the Department of Social Justice, Government of Kerala, launched She Taxi on a public-private partnership basis program in Trivandrum in November 2013 with five entrepreneurs to promote women entrepreneurship in taxi services.
The motive behind the initiative was to bring special taxis on roads, which will be driven by the women, for the women, and provide them with a safe mean of transport.
She Taxi has evolved with time and is competing in all aspects with other private taxi services in the state. It has an online booking system managed by a third-party vendor (Global Track) and one can contact the call centres to avail its services.
In addition, drivers are aware of important details such as the location of a nearby police station, safe night shelters for women and a security control room proactively monitor them 24x7.
Expansion For Medical And Emergency Services
Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja in her Facebook post on April 4 said that She Taxi would be available from Sunday, April 5 for ill and elderly people who want to go to hospitals and buy medicines.
She also announced that 'She Taxis' will be free for BPL cardholders and it will charge half of its normal fare price to APL cardholders, others.
Considering the overwhelming response of the people, the government has expanded its services to Kollam and Kannur cities recently.
"I am so happy that I can help people during the lockdown," Amrithavally, a taxi driver from Trivandrum associated with She Taxi since 2014, said.
"Our Government is very supportive and provides us with new masks, sanitisers and gloves regularly. Local hospitals have trained us on how to handle elderly people and provide first aid in case of any emergency. We are getting timely payment for BPL cardholders rides," she added.
As per the data from Gender Park, an autonomous institution promoted by the Department of Social Justice, Government of Kerala State, there are 50 taxis registered under She Taxi program out of which 27 Taxi owners have volunteered to work in lockdown. These taxis have completed 276 medical emergency related rides since 5 April.
Dr P T Mohammed Sunish, chief executive officer of Gender Park, said, "We started She Taxi in 2013-14 at a time when there was no Ola and Uber in the state. The moto of She Taxi was to have a platform for the women and by the women. There was a time when no women would have thought of coming to the driving profession but She Taxi has changed that perception and opened a new job sector for them.
"Our health minister KK Shaialja asked us to find a solution to address health-related issues in the state. We held a meeting with She Taxi drivers and come up with a plan to provide services for elderly people who are at maximum risk in coronavirus pandemic. A total of 27 women entrepreneurs volunteered for it and are doing a great job," he added.
As per the data from the Gender Park, there has not been any unforeseen incident reported so far in the past seven years since the time of its inauguration. Sunish told that the taxis are equipped with all the security measures that include an emergency button for the drivers.
"We have trained She Taxi drivers in self-defence techniques like martial art, judo etc. for their safety. Also, these taxis have a panic button for the drivers along with third-party call centres tracking the movement of these vehicles 24x7. She Taxi has become a success in lockdown time as we are seeing a surge in its booking every day. We have expanded its services in two more cities and are planning to expand in the whole state shortly." Dr Sunish concluded.
The Logical Indian Take
Kerala has set up many successful examples to the nation by using different approaches to tackle coronavirus. Smart use of She Taxi is one of them. The state has tackled many viral fevers in the past including the perilous Nipah outbreak and has prepared itself better to fight any untoward situation.
When all the states are putting coronavirus infected people to a 14 days isolation, Kerala is keeping its people for a 28-days quarantine period. Kerala government announced on May 1 that there was no fresh case in the state. The Logical Indian appreciates Kerala's efforts and appeals to other states to reconsider their approach to stop the spread of coronavirus.