UN Women Regional Director rides in their seats on Meri Seif Buses
Author: Bessie MARUIA
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea — Lack of access to safe and reliable public transport poses major risks to women’s safety in Papua New Guinea, especially in urban hubs like Port Moresby and Lae. Up to 90 percent of women in PNG have experienced sexual harassment or assault on public transport, according to a UN Women Study.
UN Women Regional Director Mr. Mohammad Naciri rode 90 minutes in the shoes of the more than 150,000 women who accessed the service over the last year to highlight the importance of prioritising women’s safety on public transport. Mr. Naciri made a typical Port Moresby journey from 4 mile to Air Transport Sqaudron (ATS) settlement along with regular female commuters on the Meri Seif Bus service.
The 90-minute journey departed at 9:00am for ATS and provided female commuters the opportunity to share challenges they face in their daily lives travelling around Port Moresby and how this temporary special measure is supporting the provision of safe, reliable and affordable public transport that enables women and children to move freely and safely around Port Moresby. ‘I sell water containers at Boroko to support my 7 children and the Meri Seif Bus not only provide a safe space but also is spaces enough for my market goods and I do not have to pay extra for my bags. I use it everyday and would like to say thankyou to everyone who made this possible’, said a regular commuter form ATS.
Australian Government , National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and UN Women have provided long term support to the Ginigoada Foundation between 2015 to 2018 to establish this women and children - only bus service .Two buses , have been donated by National Capital District Commission and two have been purchased by UN Women through funding support from UN Women Australian National Committee (ANC). The buses have provided a reliable and safer means of getting around for thousands of women. With subsidized operational costs and a small fare to sustain the service, there are now six Meri Seif Busses on the streets of Port Moresby, helping women and children feel safer in their daily commute.
Thanks to the success of the UN Women Safe Public Transport Programme and additional support from the Australian Government, the initiative is expanding to the capital of Morobe Province, Lae, the second biggest city in the country and arguably even more dangerous than Port Moresby.