On 24 August, 2015 at Waigani Central Carpark, Ginigoada Bisnis Development Foundation (Ginigoada) and UN Women are launching a new partnership to expand the current Port Moresby: Safe City Free of Violence against Women and Girls to include Safe Public Transport. This launch coincides with the first anniversary of the operation of the Meri Seif Bus.
The Meri Seif Bus was established by Ginigoada one year ago and the purple bus been a fixture on the road between town and Gerehu. Over 400 women have been using the service daily. Support for the first year of operation has been received from Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CPL Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Digicel.
In 2014, UN Women conducted a scoping study in which over 90% of women and girls interviewed said they experienced some form of violence when accessing public transport. This included time while they were on buses, waiting at bus stops, walking to and from bus stops, or riding in taxis. The most common types of violence reported by women and girls included verbal sexual remarks, extortion, robbery, threats or intimidation, inappropriate touching, and indecent exposure. The study also established that women took more trips than men and travelled more days of the week. With limited alternatives in modes of public transport around the city, the experience of violence while accessing public transportation has become widespread.
In response to these findings, UN Women has developed a comprehensive programme to address violence against women and girls on public transport. This is being funded by the Australian Government and UN Women Australian National Committee and includes the funding for operating the Meri Seif Bus for the next three years.
The Meri Seif Bus is one of several interventions planned to improve the safety of public transport in Port Moresby. Other interventions include trialling cash-less ticketing; improving bus stops based on the findings of women’s safety audits; working with Road Traffic Authority and PMV drivers to increase prevention and improve responses to violence against women and girls on and around public transport; and conducting a behaviour change campaign to address violence against women and girls.
The Meri Seif bus currently operates between Gerehu and Town during the morning and afternoon peak periods. Additional services are planned as part of the UN Women programme.
The Port Moresby: Safe City free of Violence against Women and Girls has been working in the Gerehu and Gordons markets since 2011.
Expected to grace this event on August 24, Monday, 2pm at Waigani Central Carpark are as follows: NCDC Governor Powes Parkop, City Manager Leslie Alu, POMCCI Chairman David Conn, CPL Chairman Mahesh Patel and the heads of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Digicel.