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'Some auto drivers will never learn'

Last updated: 21 June, 2011
Megha Shenoy 18:27 IST

MIXED EMOTIONS

Commuters can register a complaint against auto drivers using a 24-hour helpline

Bangaloreans have always shared a love-hate relationship with the auto drivers. Though these drivers treat the commuters with utmost respect at times, they are also infamous for hiking up their fares and even verbally or physically harassing the commuters.

With the public transport system unable to keep pace with the growing needs of the people, dependency on the rickshaws is on an all time high. Hence, there are times when one has no other option than to put up with the attitude of the auto drivers. Taking heed to this problem, the Bangalore Traffic Police has come up with a unique 24-hour auto helpline which enables the harassed commuters to register a complaint against an auto driver at anytime.

This helpline number (25588444/25588555), which has been in existence for the past three years, automatically records the complaint and those at the helpline counter are constantly monitoring and screening all the calls that are coming in. Anil Patel, one of the officials at the Traffic Management Centre, tells Metrolife that the helpline gets a minimum of 50 to 60 calls everyday.

“And at times over the weekend, the calls are even more. But out of these on an average, only 15 calls are valid and taken up with the police. Many a time, we get minor complaints like the callers stating that an auto driver did not give back two rupees,”
he adds.

So what happens once the call is registered? “If it’s really urgent and the commuter needs help, we immediately send a message to the nearest police station in the area that the commuter is in. If the harassment has already occurred and the complaint has been recorded, we verify the situation and send a notice to the address under which the auto number has been registered. If the driver ignores the notice, the police will go to the driver’s house and bring him to the police station,” he states.

The commuters, on the other hand, have a mixed response to this initiative. Many of them, who recently got to know of the initiative but have never used it, feel that the helpline will prove to be beneficial at the time of an emergency. “Such a helpline will give a channel to those who have a fear of going to the police station. One can make use of the helpline for immediate action,” says Meghraj, a student.

But Mamta, a professional, feels otherwise. “I don’t see how far this can be used as a problem solving technique. That’s because some drivers will never learn no matter what. When I was verbally abused by an auto driver recently, I went to the police station that very night and the cops refused to register my complaint. So how can one trust the helpline?” she questions.

Ask Anil about it and he says that a follow up on the case can be done by the complainant. “The helpline has been created to help the commuters and so far, we have been receiving a positive response to it. It’s not like each and every case has been successful with the driver owning up to his faults. The battle is tough but we make sure all sides of the issue are taken up and solve them in the best manner,” he states.

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