PORT HARCOURTâ€” SIXTY women, last Saturday, benefited from the second phase of ESI Lady Cabbies scheme initiated by the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI), a non- governmental organization (NGO), founded by the wife of Rivers State governor, Dame Judith Amaechi.
The ESI Lady Cabbies scheme initiated in 2008 with 53 beneficiaries is geared towards encouraging and empowering women through commercial transportation.
Rivers State governor, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, described the ESI initiative as a welcome development and complementary to the governmentâ€™s drive to provideÂ gainful employment andsustainable empowerment for the people.
Governor Amaechi, who during the first phase of the programme pledged additional 147 vehicles to boost the scheme, enjoined beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunities provided by the NGO.
Governor Amaechi, who was represented by the Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Tonye Harry, charged women to seek professional driving jobs available in corporate organizations and expressed his preference for female drivers.
Commissioning the vehicles, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), described the ESI Lady Cabbies scheme as first of its kind in the country, adding that it was capable of reducing unemployment.
Mr. Ajumogobia, who charged beneficiaries to handle their vehicles with care, supported the scheme with additional two vehicles.
Founder of ESI and wife of Rivers State governor, Dame Judith Amaechi, said the female commercial driving scheme had become a veritable medium of providing sustainable employment for women and warned beneficiaries who indulged in sharp practices to stop.
Mrs. Amaechi represented by the commissioner for women affair Manuela Izunwa said she would explore other areas including agriculture to create employment for the teeming unemployed youths and women.
Earlier, the chairman ESI Board of trustees Dakuku Peterside said the NGO was poised to providing three hundred taxis for female commercial transportation in the year 2010.
On his part, the commissioner for transport George Tolofari charged the female commercial drivers not to violate traffic regulation and avoid allowing other persons to drive the car a situation that may defeat the objective of the scheme.
The second batch of ESI lady cabbies is a partnership with First Bank plc. The 60 vehicles bring to one hundred and thirteen vehicles donated to women for public transportation in Rivers State.