Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mumbai Taxi & Auto rickshaw high handedness

The common man has always been a victim and target of everybody. By saying common man, I would like to exclude the persons affiliated to various political parties and the affluent who can contact the authorities in a single phone call. I am talking about the person who faces the daily grind in the city, who tries to make both ends meet with great difficulty to survive and who has no contacts whatsoever in the right places. He is harassed everywhere and by anyone. Let me draw your attention to this man’s plight to get an auto rickshaw/taxi by refusing to ply to the requested destination and above all their rude behavior. In spite of repeated drives by the media to enlighten them about the law whereby they cannot refuse a passenger, the situation remains the same. The Police, a silent spectator, does help but only during the drive. After that they are the same. Due to this behavior the common man rightly feels about the nexus between the Police & the auto rickshaw/taxi drivers. This of course is always denied. On complaining, the Police does point out the various phone numbers, email ids & laws which are absolutely impractical in daily life. Is it possible for a person standing under the scorching Sun or in the heavy rains to note down the 10-15 vehicle numbers and report via the much publicized complaint sources. Considering that this is also done once in a while, what is the result? A standard reply, “We are looking into this matter. We will take action against the offender” which is nothing but a consoling eyewash for the complainant. They also refuse to ply by giving a simple excuse about the empty fuel tank which cannot be checked by us. They also cannot be forced to ply if the meter is half down and they do take advantage of this loophole. For a proof against all this behavior, I would request the authorities including the R.T.O. to check any place especially like Railway/Bus stations, Shopping malls, Theatres, etc. and they will get a first surprising experience of the refusal to ply by the auto rickshaw/taxi drivers. Kindly note that the authorities will have to wear civilian clothes in order to do this public service exercise. Another problem created by them is standing in multiple lines while waiting for passengers. They stand in double – triple lines and create traffic jams. Of course, the traffic constable is always present but only at a distant to collect fines from other erring traffic offenders because the challan (fine) book will reflect on his daily performance and not the help done to avoid the traffic jams. So why help the common man by fighting with the auto rickshaw/taxi drivers which will yield him nothing at the end of the day. After all if the fight escalates then the matter will go to the union and a new round of problems will start. So nip it in the bud, Don’t interfere. And last but not the least problem is cheating in fares through tampered fare meters. Everybody knows that many meters are tampered but nothing can be done because we cannot prove it. The present meters are easy to be tampered and hence the introduction of electronic meters is being opposed. Of course, even they can also be tampered but that will take some time, more R&D and expenses. Hence the opposition to install the electronic meters. The Police says that they will take action against such malpractitioners but then we have to go to Police station and collect the excess money. Imagine wasting your time to collect Rs.5 given in excess and the more extra money spent to reach the police station. Nobody will do it and hence such a law has been made. So the law does exist but in reality its impractical. All said and done but contrary to above facts, there are some auto rickshaw/taxi drivers who are very helpful and honest. They should be rewarded and the offenders should be punished. Why can’t strict & stern action be taken against the offenders? Why can’t new laws be introduced or amended? Also the fine charges have to be increased to a high amount than the present meager charges. Is this impossible or are they afraid of the recoil? So if the protectors cannot help then the common has to rise to defend himself and his dignity. Beware of the outcry. Beware of the rebellion.

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