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Women-only ride-sharing service comes to a halt

Rifat Islam
06 Sep 2021 00:00:00 | Update: 06 Sep 2021 08:35:23
Women-only ride-sharing service comes to a halt
Shortage of riders forced the women-only ride-sharing service to shut down – UNB Photo

OBon, an app-based ride-sharing service dedicated for women to give a cushion against nagging traffic congestion, suspended its operation in the capital due to shortage of riders caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The motorbike service was introduced in July 2018 by OBhai Solutions Limited, a company backed by MGH Group, the privately owned sprawling conglomerate, to grab the market of women ride service seekers.

The service that started with just two riders is now registered with more than a hundred.

The company halted its service this April after the country went into several intermittent shutdown and the government announced ban on ride-sharing.

Tanha Tabbasum, a junior officer in a corporate, regularly uses two-wheeler ride-sharing services to avoid the slow-paced overcrowded public transportation.

“It feels uncomfortable as bike services are mostly offered by male riders. But I don’t have any other option right now for a cheaper and faster ride,” she said.

Syed Fakruddin Millath, senior manager, Regulatory Affairs for OBhai and the company spokesperson told The Business Post they hope to restart the service from the end of September.

As the ride service came to a halt, this handful of riders switched to other professions.

One of them, Sabiha Sultana, who had been involved in the ride services from the beginning of 2019, moved to the delivery service department of MGH Group.

“I joined here at salary of Tk 20,000 per month. I still get the same amenities,” she narrated.

Stating that riding alone in the middle of the night is too riskier for a woman rider than that of a man,

Millath posited that, “A major barrier for women is societal attitude. Car drivers, truck drivers, pedestrians tend to glare at female riders and pass sleazy remarks.” “Girls and women often face criticism from people in their family and neighbourhoods as well.”

Some users with whom The Business Post talked to share their sour and sweet experiences as well.

Sohani Habib, a corporate woman, said, “The main problem is a handful of riders. I have to wait for hours to get a ride or book a ride earlier at night before going to my office in the morning.”

Another user, Sharifa Piyu, a businesswoman, blamed the unprofessional attitude of the riders.

“Most riders I met drove recklessly and I felt unsecured. I found them mostly making chat with other riders or calling their mates loudly in the middle of the road – all that made me scared,” she gave vent to her feelings.

Millath claimed that they groom their riders by providing training courses with experienced trainers along with helping them avail motorbike licences.

“We are providing a multiple-layer security for our female passengers. The security layers include

vehicle tracking where the system can track the riders, emergency support team and the SOS button—a mobile phone button used during emergencies, which is available in the

app for both users and riders,” he explained.