//Breaking yet another male bastion

Breaking yet another male bastion

Hameeda Bhano, an MTC driver, handles vehicle with aplomb

IN CONTROL: Driver Hameeda Bhano is a picture of confidence as she starts her trip.

CHENNAI: This is the story of yet another woman, who has broken the gender barrier. Hameeda Bhano, an MTC driver, can be seen handling buses with ease on route No. 12-B (Vadapalani to Foreshore Estate). This aeronautical engineer joined the transport service in 2003 and trained as a brake inspector.

But luck came in the form of the government’s decision to reserve jobs for women in all jobs and she was soon driving an 18-A bus (Tambaram to Broadway). After her marriage she moved to the present route and now is exempt from night duty. Recalling her first drive from Tambaram at about 6-30 a.m., Bhano says "I was quite nervous with men jumping off the running bus and huge crowds getting in at traffic signals. We normally do not face any problems with women except sometimes during peak hours or in the evenings when women sometimes try to get into the bus at traffic signals," she says.

Also a homemaker, she entrusts her newborn with a babysitter. "Of course my in-laws are always there to help me. "My husband gives me all the encouragement to continue," she says. Has she encountered any problems with the passengers, especially sexual harassment? "It is a problem faced by all conductors. We are at the wheel and cannot divert our attention to what is happening behind us.

"But in case the problem gets out of hand, I immediately take the bus to the nearest police station," she says. Footboard travel really annoys her. "People especially men do not seem to understand the danger involved in footboard travel," she says. Ms Bhano also concedes she has never faced the problem of gender discrimination at work. "All my colleagues and my superiors are concerned about me and have helped me," she adds.