More autos okay, but let drivers behave, say police

More autos okay, but let drivers behave, say police

Praveen Sood, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security), explains that 40,000 new permits, as misconstrued by many, will not be issued in one day or a month, but over the next four to six years. The addition, he says, will be very less in a year compared to other vehicles. “Hence, I don’t think these autos will contribute to further chaos. Most of the over 1,000 vehicles added to the city roads daily are either bikes or cars.”

The traffic police view the increase in a different way. Old autorickshaws, they say, will be replaced with new ones. These will be run on LPG and have four-stroke engines. But the auto drivers’ attitude towards the public has definitely left the police fuming, yet clueless. Virtually everyone among the public has a complaint against the drivers. The traffic police had even conducted an orientation programme for nine months and regularly interacted with drivers.

Most autorickshaws are not owned by drivers. They run them on daily rent. Once his shift is completed, the driver should leave the vehicle at the owner’s house and return. Many drivers make up for the “dry runs” by charging the commuter double the meter fare.  The police feel the autorickshaw drivers’ unions shouldn’t oppose modernisation. The unions are against the use of GPRS systems and mobile linked facilities such as those in the airport taxis. “If we don’t address these problems, things will never improve even after 50 years from now,” points out Sood.

More autos, more choices
The police actually feel there is a dearth of autori­ckshaws that run in a methodical manner. Les­ser autorickshaws on the road would mean the existing automen acting more pricey. Increase the numbers and promote healthy competition, and then watch problems disappear marginally. At least, there will be more choices for the public, contend the police. The need is to promote an atmosphere where the public and auto drivers can shake hands wholeheartedly. For that, the automen should adopt modern technology. And yes, the police and public should understand the auto drivers’ plight, too.

As a survey by the traffic police reveals, one major reason why some autorickshaw drivers are involved in crime and often show their adamance is illiteracy and poor financial backgrounds. The drivers are often exploited by the traffic police, besides vehicle owners and RTO staff. Many a time, the drivers end up losing more money than they earn daily. There is a widespread view that the system in the RTOs should change. If an auto driver is found to have violated norms many times, the permit should be cancelled, say the police. Currently, the drivers pay penalty and repe­at the same offence. According to the survey, nearly one lakh autos in the city do about 15 lakh trips in a day. This indicates the need to increase the number of autos. Mostly, senior citizens, working women and children are dependent on autos. The police say if the number is not increased, the existing problems will continue.

To regulate autorickshaw operations, the police support the proposal for an exclusive RTO for them. The police also want the orientation programmes for drivers at RTO offices, since auto drivers will have to come there for renewal of permits, driving licences and more. While refusal to come on hire, parking in no-parking zones, defective silencers and tampered meters are the most frequent violations, the police say they have no role to check tampered meters since it is the job of the weights and measurements department to submit a report.

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