An ardent environment lover, Dhananjoy Chakravorty has transformed his taxi into a small garden to convey the message of saving the environment.
The 40-year-old driver has created a garden on top of his taxi and has a mini green area in the trunk of his Ambassador car with potted plants. His taxi, named as ‘Sobuj Rath’ or Green Chariot, also has social messages painted inside it.
In an interaction with NewsGram, Dhanonjoy shared the thoughts behind his innovative project ‘Green Chariot’.
Arnab Mitra: How did the idea of ‘Green Chariot’ come into your mind?
Dhananjoy Chakravorty: It all started three years ago when my wife Sharita planted a small tree on the roof of my taxi. It looked very beautiful and with the consultation of my owner Amardeep Singh, I took the initiative to fulfill my dream project ‘Green Chariot’.
AM: Were there any hurdles during the assembling of the ‘Green Chariot’?
DC: The main obstacle was money. As a taxi driver, it is very hard to make any savings. But with the help of my wife and support of my owner, I made this ‘Green Taxi’ with an estimated cost of Rs.55, 000.
Besides this, I have to take care of this new garden every day as it is difficult to keep the plants alive in this weather.
AM: Passengers say that it is really comfortable to ride in your taxi, what do you have to say about this?
DC: Thanks to my small garden! The plants absorb the heat of the sun, so there is always a moderate temperature inside my taxi.
AM: People say that it is just a show-off and you can’t continue as it isn’t cost effective, would you like to comment on that?
DC: Some people will always feel jealous. But people are with me, and I will continue to spread the message of saving the mother Earth.
AM: What are your future plans?
DC: The project is at its initial stage, so it is hard to say now. But on the World Environment Day (June 5) I have a plan to make a rally from Karunamoyee to Maidan and invite people to join. I will also distribute some of my paintings on the theme ‘Save Nature’.
AM: Any message you want to give to the society.
DC: Nature is our best friend. Don’t destroy it. Save nature for the benefit of mankind.
Iim Fahima Jachja cannot operate a vehicle and relies on a driver to get around the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, but that did not stop her from putting road safety at the heart of her women’s empowerment startup.
Since launching in late 2016, Queenrides has attracted 200,000 members to join its website.
Aside from reading articles about lifestyle and financial management, members can also gather in person for workshops covering topics like sexual health and family planning.
But road safety has been a focus from the beginning said, Jachja, a mother of two.
“When you are safe on the road, you can be the best you want to be,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Jakarta.
Road deaths are high in Indonesia, according to the transport ministry, which counted 162,000 fatalities last year, compared to 136,000 in 2015.
In a country undergoing rapid urbanization as incomes increase, more people are buying vehicles, putting stress on the road network.
Many drivers avoid taking tests by paying corrupt officials for driving licenses, said Jachja.
The road risks are rising for women in particular, she said, because changing social attitudes mean that more of them are working and commuting.
At the same time, relatively few women have taken driving lessons and tests to acquire licenses, she said.
Only about 20 percent of 7,500 Queensrides members surveyed said they had taken a driving test.
“This is a major issue – this is a crisis – but people haven’t noticed the situation,” said Jachja about the number of road deaths in Indonesia.
Low-income countries have fatality rates more than double those in high-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
There were 104 million registered vehicles in Indonesia, a nation of 238 million people, according to the WHO’s latest report on road safety published in 2015.
As well as enabling its members to exchange views and learn more about road safety online, Queenrides arranges workshops with input from the ministry of transportation and traffic police.
Participants have gone on to take driving lessons and tests, said Jachja.
That trend could make Indonesia’s roads safer, said Liviu Vedrasco, a road safety expert at the WHO in Bangkok.
“There are some studies that suggest women are more careful and follow the rules better than men,” he noted.
One of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2015 is to halve the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020, said Vedrasco.
As the number of female drivers increases, Indonesia’s ministry of transportation has stepped up efforts to reduce crashes involving women by working with outside partners, said Budi Setiyadi, director of land transport at the ministry.
“Queenrides is needed for women riders in Indonesia to be given a good education in driving safely, because women have a primary role,” Setiyadi said in an email. “They can educate their children, their families, and the surrounding environment.”
As more Indonesian women join the workforce and take to the roads, Queensrides can also help them assert control in other areas of their lives, according to Jachja.
For example, about 30 members gathered last month in child-friendly cafe in Jakarta to discuss family planning, and strategies for educating their teenage children about sex.
The United States-based Johns Hopkins University sent experts to the workshop part of a program targeting “married women of reproductive age”, according to Dinar Pandan Sari of the university’s Center for Communication Programs in Jakarta.
“The fact that in just two years, Queenrides has been able to grow from an idea to 200,000 women joining their movement is remarkable,” Sari added.
Queenrides teams up with other organizations to provide information on issues like women’s rights, while members can also receive financial planning advice from institutions including Indonesia’s Bank Mandiri.
As Queensrides’ membership grows, revenue from advertising on the website should increase as well, allowing the startup to expand its programs, according to Jachja.
She said she aims to attract 5 million members over the next three years, making Queensrides the biggest women’s empowerment platform in Southeast Asia.
“If you can conquer Indonesia, it is easy to conquer any other area in the world,” said Jachja about her homeland, a sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, and a multitude of languages and cultures. “Conquering Indonesia is like conquering five countries at the same time.” (VOA)