It was rush hour in the morning. At the capital's Tajmahal Road bus stand, a teenage girl – wearing a blue uniform – was waiting alongside different people.
While rubbing her sleepy eyes, she was looking around for buses. She waited there for a hour and a half. At least seven buses drove past her.
The crowd was heavy and everybody jostled each other to get on a bus. There was no way the young girl would win the fight.
Her class test was about to begin, and she began palpitating. A few minutes later, she saw another ramshackle bus heading towards the stop. She did not care about anything and hopped on that bus.
It was a jampacked inside. Most of the passengers were standing and so was she. Suddenly, she felt someone feeling her up from behind. When she turned around, she encountered a middle-aged man.
"Although I was not aware of the different forms of abuse at that age I knew what was happening was wrong. I raised my voice to protest but surprisingly, I noticed none of the passengers were bothered or tried to support me. I was shocked. This very incident kept haunting me for years and later inspired me to start Jabo," said Fahmida Prema, co-founder and CEO of Jabo.
Jabo is a pick and drop transport service for commuters inside Dhaka city. This September, it began its journey to ensure security for its passengers. It is available 12 hours – from seven in the morning to seven in the evening. To ensure security, it has machine learning-based CCTV cameras inside all the transports. Passengers can even share locations with their friends and families.
Jabo thinks security is not a gender-based concern. Hence, male or female – regardless of age – anyone can take this service by pre- or instant booking, using Jabo app. This is a fully app-based system which is supervised from Jabo's office in Dhanmondi.
Using CCTV cameras should be a mandatory thing in every transport. From little girls to senior citizens, everyone is harassed on public transports. But here people are under close surveillance. So, passengers and our employees – both are aware and safe
"Using CCTV cameras should be a mandatory thing in every transport. From little girls to senior citizens, everyone is harassed on public transports. But here people are under close surveillance. So, passengers and our employees – both are aware and safe," stated Prema.
Along with security, safety also has been the priority of Jabo. Hence, drivers with 10 years of experience have been selected to work here, after proper ground check and test. Later, they also have been trained in different workshops along with their helpers and as helpers, the company has decided to employ transgenders.
"Transgenders are also part of our society. So, they should have equal opportunity, Jabo believes. We wanted to preach this message and could not think of anything better than using this public transport as a platform," said the co-founder.
It is a women-friendly transport and has tried to make women's journey as comfortable as possible. So, Jabo is introducing keeping a box of sanitary napkin in each transport.
"I understand the anxiety that a woman goes through when they travel. Our team has tried to provide an anxiety- and hassle-free journey," said Prema.
However, inside Dhaka city, traffic jam is one of the most common problems. As a result, it takes a bit longer than usual to reach the destination. Therefore, tracking the transports and the number of available seats can be seen on the app. It also offers free Wi-Fi so that passengers can enjoy browsing the internet during their journey.
As it has started its journey amid the pandemic, it is trying to check all the health hazards as well. Wearing a musk while using Jabo is compulsory. To make this option automated, they are going to launch a musk detecting CCTV camera. If this camera can identify a passenger who does not have a musk, then automatically his/her account will be suspended.
Moreover, to maintain social distance, only digital payment is accepted here so that passengers and their employees both remain safe. It has fixed ticket price at Tk70 for their current route – from Mirpur 1 to Gulshan 1. But they are going to offer discounts very soon using different promo codes.
To make things easier for office goers, Jabo team is planning to offer their service to different organisations for their employees on a monthly, yearly or a ticket-based process. It will help reduce unnecessary crowd in the stoppages and make it time-friendly for everyone.
After taking their service, Jabo team encourages their passengers to rate the journey and leave suggestions so that it can grow in the right direction with the feedback of their customers.
Jabo has started its journey with five vehicles only and was operated by a team of 15 members. We are planning to come up with 200 transports and starting our service on 50 more routes of Dhaka city by end of this year
Mohammad Alim, a banker, rated Jabo app as excellent, saying, "Now, I can save more than half of my transport cost using Jabo. Its top-notch quality and high security are mentionable features. I am happy with their service and wishing them growth."
Around 30,000 users have included their names in the list in the last three months since Jabo declared its journey. Founder and Chairman of Jabo Rafat Rahman happily shared that they are overwhelmed with the responses from the mass people.
"Jabo has started its journey with five vehicles only and was operated by a team of 15 members. We are planning to come up with 200 transports and starting our service on 50 more routes of Dhaka city by end of this year," he added.