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Gender parity: Peshawar BRT to focus on women

As the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is built in Peshawar, its backers are focusing on a key aspect: gender parity with a large slice of the jobs it creates reserved for women and a focus on boosting the number of women who opt for public transport in the city.

The project, which is estimated to cost more than Rs61 billion is expected to generate over 4,020 jobs in the city.

The project’s loan proposal which was submitted to the President of Pakistan earlier in June by Asian Development Bank (ADB), a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune shows that the project expects to generate more than 4,020 positions.

Of these 1,414 jobs will be at the BRT stations such as ticket clerks, security staff and janitors.

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A further 2,522 jobs are expected to be generated in the bus operations department such as drivers, conductors and mechanics. As many as 57 employees will also work in the TransPeshawar department.

Of all these jobs, 10 per cent of the positions will be filled by women.

The 26-kilometer-long BRT project is expected to be completed at an estimated cost of over Rs61 billion, of which Rs34.81 billion will be provided by the ADB as a regular loan while Rs7.89 billion will be sought from the French international development agency Agency France Development (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) as a loan to finance civil works and cover equipment cost.

The project is likely to become operational by 2019, but the main civil works are expected to be completed before the upcoming general elections in 2018, the documents stated.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Inayatullah Khan told The Express Tribune that a proposal submitted by ADB to the government is likely to be approved by both parties – the federal with input from the K-P government over its completion time and other terms.

The loan provided by ADB will be for 25 years, including a five-year grace period. The annual interest rate would be determined in accordance with ADB’s London Interbank offered rate of 0.15 per cent every year.

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As many as 1.8 million residents of Peshawar are expected to benefit from BRT. Of this, 40 per cent are classified as poor while 0.5 million passengers are expected to use the project regularly, the documents stated.

However, the documents revealed a commitment to make the project gender mainstream.

In this regard, the loan proposal stated that 10 per cent of the BRT employees would have to be women.

Moreover, the documents claimed that since very few women use the existing public transport system in the city owing to harassment which women face in overcrowded public buses, the BRT will aim to increase the number of women who use it.

In this regard, the project aims to increase women commuters from the current 15 per cent to 20 per cent and an annual increase of five per cent in the first three years – doubling the total number of women commuting by public transport to 30 per cent at the end of the three years.

Similarly, the documents state that most women prefer to walk as much as two kilometres per day on average or are forced to use private transport which is more expensive.

To address this, the documents suggested that the project would establish universal access and safety features for women, children and people with disabilities at all the 31 BRT stations.

“All staff [of BRT] will also be trained to deal with harassment incidents within the BRT premises,” it read.

Izharullah. Gender parity: Peshawar BRT to focus on women. The Express Tribune, July 17, 2017.

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