Auto drivers behaving better, or poor enforcement?

Auto drivers behaving better, or poor enforcement?

8 % dip in cases of refusal, overcharging in the last 3 years

Auto drivers behaving better, or poor enforcement?

With a threat from taxi aggregators and ‘strict enforcement’, there has been an eight percent dip in the number of complaints against autorickshaw drivers for refusing to go on hire and overcharging in the last three years. But the menace has not been eliminated.

In 2015, the Bengaluru Traffic Police registered 19,804 cases against autorickshaw drivers for refusing to ply and 10,591 cases for overcharging. 

Anil Shetty, founder of the ‘Peace Auto’ initiative, attributes the declining cases due to competition from ‘seat sharing’ concept introduced by cab aggregators. “I used to pay Rs 85 to travel by autorickshaw from Ashok Pillar in Jayanagar to Vittal Mallya Road. Now, I spend less than Rs 60 on the Ola cab,” he said and added that autorickshaw drivers had lost the market due to new concepts adopted by aggregators.

Echoing the same opinion, M Manjunath, president of Adarsh Auto and Taxi Drivers' Union said autorickshaw drivers had taken a hit. He attributed refusal to go hire on various reasons. “Having no licence, one-way traffic and fear of their financiers, who the auto drivers want to evade, contribute to these violations,” he said.

On meter tampering, Manjunath said: “About 5,000 of the 80,000 autorickshaws that operate in the City run with tampered meters. It’s an organised racket,” he said.

Assistant Controller of Legal Metrology (Auto and Taxi) Bhaskar Rao said the department booked around 682 cases for tampering of autorickshaw meters after conducting about 1,620 inspections in 2015. The department has collected Rs 3.62 lakh as penalty.

Meanwhile, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) MA Saleem said the department has set up about 11 pre-paid autorickshaw counters at places from where frequent complaints are received. “We plan to set up counters even in residential areas,” he said and added that the department referred these cases (refusal to go for hire) to the court, where the penalty is Rs 2,000. Earlier, autorickshaw drivers would get away by coughing up Rs 100. With the increase in the penalty, the violations have come down,” he said.

Trashing these claims, consumer rights activists VK Somashekar of Grahak Shakti had a different take. “The declining trend is because passengers never complain most of the time. Moreover, the department never acts tough on meter tampering fearing protests from the autorickshaw union,” he said. 

Chandana Rao, a 25-year-old, sums up saying: “Three autorickshaw drivers refused to ply from Indiranagar to MG Road when I urgently wanted to travel recently. I had no patience to note down the vehicle number as the next autorickshaw agreed to ply,” she recalls.

Complaint number
The public can call 080-22868444 and 080-22868550 to register complaints of traffic offences.

When Deccan Herald called the number, the person who answered the phone said he gets about 10 to 15 calls a day related to refusal to ply and overcharging.

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