Mumbai: Nearly half of the city's iconic Kaali peeli [Black and Yellow] cabs do not have rear seat belts. Last week FPJ visited several taxi stands in south Mumbai including CSMT, Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Byculla, Dadar and For and checked two hundred taxis. Only 102 were found with functional rear seat belts, while the rest either had non-functioning seatbelts or they were dislocated or removed.
Taxi driver Mahesh Dube ( 47) who mostly operated only in south Mumbai for over 15 years said, "I pushed the clip of the rear seat belt behind the seats because it is uncomfortable for passengers sitting in the middle of the back seat, and cut the outer parts of the belts. Now I have decided to re-fix the rear seatbelts as soon as possible,” he said.
When LokeshPrajapati (35) bought his taxi in March 2019, the rear seat belts were in place. “After passengers started complaining, I decided to remove both clips of the rear seat belts later,” he said. Now he, too, is looking to re-fix the seat belts.
Like Dube and Prajapati, many other kaali-peeli cab operators in the city removed or pushed the belts behind the seats.
Mumbai Taximen's Union general secretary AL Quadros also agreed with the fact and said currently nearly 50 percent cabs do not have rear seat belts. “That is why I requested city traffic police for relaxation up to December 31,” he said.
In the letter written to the city's Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), on November 5, 2022, Quadros stated, "As per your circular dated October 31, 2022 passengers who occupy the rear seats must wear seat belts. Since you have stated in your order that if the passenger failed to wear seatbelts, the fine would be collected from the passengers. We welcome your decision."
"Many taxi operators have removed the seat belts which are not readily available in the market. We have requested the car manufacturers to supply the seat belts,” he stated in his letter.
Earlier, on October 14, the city traffic police released an order, based on the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act,that wearing rear seatbelts will be made mandatory from November 1 onwards across the city.