“Women riding scooty in the hill tracts has had a positive impact. But, the number of users is still very low.”
For Helen Marma, 35, the struggle starts every morning. She works at the Bandarban Civil Surgeon's office. After preparing breakfast, she drops her daughter to school and then heads for her office.
She would often be late to work having to wait to get a rickshaw a long time.
To make life easier, Helen bought a scooty.
"From shopping to dropping my daughter to her school – many things have become easier now. The scooty has saved my time and has allowed me to do more work," said Helen.
Niniprue Marma, 42, who works at Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control office, faced the same problem.
"Earlier, I used to take rickshaws for commute. But getting a rickshaw when you need it is difficult. I used to arrive late at work often. So, I bought a scooty to save time," Niniprue said.
Mitali Tanchangya, 32, of Roangchhari, works in a private company. She has to travel to remote areas for her work. Her only mode of transportation was CNG-run auto rickshaws or buses.
Mitali said, "I bought the scooty with my hard-earned money. Now, I can go to any place I need to."
Besides Helen, Niniprue and Mitali, many women are using scooty in Bandarban town.
Women going to work riding a scooty has become a common scene in the morning.
Salahuddin Mamun, traffic inspector in Bandarban, told The Business Standard that earlier 50 to 60 scooty riders were visible on the road.
"Now it is about 100 to 150," he said.
Besides office-goers, well-to-do women also ride scooty as a hobby.
They go for an outing on scooty every afternoon in Neelachal, Meghla and Shoilopropat tourist spots, several kilometres away from the town.
Eshani Marma and Dochingprue Marma, graduates from Eden College and residents of Ujani Para in the town said, "We learned how to ride bikes three years ago. Now, we bought scooties."
Donaiprue Neli, president of Saarc Human Rights Foundation's Bandarban district committee, said, "Women riding scooty in the hill tracts has had a positive impact. But, the number of users is still very low."
"At the beginning, there were some issues. Women did not carry valid papers on them. Now, they carry the necessary papers. They are made aware of traffic rules so they do not face any difficulty anywhere," said the traffic inspector.