The 30-year-old has nurtured a rare passion for driving and has harboured dreams of one day being a bus driver. Now, thanks to plenty of courage and determination, this single mother stands on the brink of seeing that dream being realised. She has been recruited by the BMTC and is set to be the city’s first-ever woman bus driver.
Prema hails from Gokak in Belgaum district and was born to farm labourers. She is no stranger to hard times and worked in the operation theatre of a hospital before the opportunity to join BMTC came up. Her son Rakesh, a six-year-old, attends school in Belgaum.
“A few years ago, KSRTC had called for applications for drivers. I had applied and cleared all the tests, but I could not join due to personal reasons. I was determined to be a driver and when the BMTC called for applications, I immediately grabbed the chance.”
Prema is currently doing test runs to acclimatise herself to traffic conditions in the city. She will be the only woman among 20,400 drivers-cum-conductors employed by the BMTC.
“Most women join BMTC as conductors, but Prema is the first woman who insisted on becoming a driver,” a BMTC official said. “We are identifying easy routes so that her task would not be so difficult.”
Prema, however, is confident of manoeuvring through Bangalore’s chaotic traffic.
“I am not afraid of the traffic here,” she said. “I am confident of doing my duty well on any route they give me. I have already driven on many of the prominent roads in the city including the busy Mysore Road, Banashankari area and Kanakapura Main Road. All the BMTC officials have been kind to me. They have praised my driving skills.”
A high-ranking BMTC official was pleased to have a woman driver on the force.
“BMTC has a workforce of 32,692 and a majority of them are drivers and conductors,” the official said. “We receive thousands of applications whenever we announce recruitment for drivers and several of them are from women. But they all fail either during the test or track driving. It’s rare for a woman to clear all the tests. We are very happy that we will soon have a woman driver on our routes. She does not lack in confidence and she is determined on doing a good job. She has always been confident of tackling our busy city roads,” the official said.
The BMTC employs more than 1,000 women conductors. A woman applying for the post of driver should be at least 150 cm in height, should weigh at least 45 kg and should be a minimum 21 years of age. Possessing a DL and physical fitness is also taken into account during recruitment.