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Driving green taxis in Dushanbe

By Olga Aristeidou and Cecilia Calatrava

How the EBRD and the GEF are promoting the use of electric vehicles and women’s inclusion in Tajikistan

How the EBRD and the GEF are promoting the use of electric vehicles and women’s inclusion in Tajikistan

Driving a taxi used to be considered a man’s job. It also used to be one of the least environmentally friendly modes of transport. All this has started to change, however.

In Tajikistan, the Rakhsh Taxi company (owned by Sayohon LLC) is challenging these two conventional images, with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) support, by operating the country’s first green taxis and employing more female taxi drivers.

Dushanbe on the road to becoming a Green City

In Dushanbe, the capital of and largest city in Tajikistan, the public transport system comprises buses, trolleybuses, minibuses and taxis. Around 288 million rides are taken on public transport annually, with taxis serving more than 30 million passengers. Vehicle fleets are heavily reliant on gasoline and diesel, causing them to have the highest impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollution in the city.

Dushanbe’s transport-related GHG emissions are expected to reach 850,000 tCO2 by 2030, with commercial vehicles, including taxis, accounting for more than 50 per cent of total emissions in volume terms. According to its Green City Action Plan (GCAP), the electrification of the city’s vehicle fleets would be the most effective way of improving its air quality.

Under the EBRD Green Cities programme, GCAPs are being developed to assess and prioritise environmental challenges and develop an action plan to tackle them through policy interventions and sustainable infrastructure investments. Green taxis are an excellent example of this.

One such investment was the EBRD’s US$ 4.5 million financing package to Rakhsh Taxi for the acquisition of up to 100 electric vehicles (EVs) and the construction of 30 EV charging stations at the company’s taxi depot and selected locations across Dushanbe to enhance the company’s ride-hailing operations.

The package also included a grant from the Bank’s Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change (FINTECC) programme, supported by the GEF. “The new electric vehicles will help us expand our services and our green agenda, improving the life of our customers and Tajik citizens in general,” says Murod Nazarov, CEO of Raksh Taxi.

“The new taxis are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 1,240 tonnes per year and cut the emissions of other pollutants that can cause severe respiratory problems.”

The first woman to drive a green taxi in Tajikistan

Rakhsh Taxi is not only becoming greener, but also promoting gender inclusion. The company has committed to increasing its female workforce by at least 20 per cent and enhancing women’s skills with dedicated training. Mavlyuda Rakhmatova is proud to be the first woman to drive an electric taxi in her country.

“I used to be an architect and worked in a design studio for 33 years,” she says. “After retirement, I realised that staying at home was not for me. My family also needed financial support, so I decided to start working as a taxi driver.”

Tajikistan has made progress on increasing gender equality. Yet, large gender disparities remain. According to a World Bank report, about 69 percent of working-age women do not work for pay.

The safety of drivers and passengers is also an issue, which is why the company has committed to developing and implementing an anti-harassment policy to prevent and address violence or harassment, including any form of gender-based violence and harassment. A new digital application developed as part of the project will include a red button that passengers can activate if they feel unsafe.

“Being a woman taxi driver is not easy, but things are getting better,” Mrs Rakhmatova says. “I wish more women would consider such a job. It can open up career opportunities, but also suit someone like me who has retired, but still wants to get out, meet people and earn some money.”

Greener and more inclusive transport are set to improve quality of life for the citizens of Dushanbe in numerous ways.

The company hired the first woman driver of an electric taxi in Tajikistan

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