In the bustling city of Mumbai, the issue of refusal to ply (RTP) by taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers has escalated into a major concern for thousands of citizens. Despite the existence of several helplines launched by the state transport department, many errant taxi and rickshaw drivers continue to refuse short-distance passengers without fear of repercussions.
To address this pressing problem, The Free Press Journal (FPJ) has taken a proactive step by relaunching a campaign against RTP. As part of this campaign, an FPJ reporter conducted a comprehensive survey, checking over 100 cabs at different locations in South Mumbai, including iconic spots like CSMT, Mantralaya, and other prominent areas on Wednesday.
Over 80% drivers refused to ply short distances
Shocking findings emerged during this drive, revealing that more than 80 per cent of taxi drivers refused to ply short distances. Popular routes like CSMT to Churchgate, CSMT to Mantralaya, Mantralaya to Churchgate, CSMT to Metro, and Mantralaya to CSMT were all met with consistent refusals. What's even more concerning is that many drivers displayed no fear of the law, bluntly refusing passengers even in front of Mantralaya.
Late evening commuters, such as Santosh Thakur, share this sentiment, likening finding a cab for CSMT or Churchgate to winning a lottery due to the scarcity of willing drivers.
While RTP is not a novel problem in Mumbai, the sheer number of refusals has grown substantially. When questioned about this issue, officials from the state transport department expressed their commitment to investigating each case reported by passengers. However, official stated that many passengers do not come forward with complaints and, instead, look for another cab. The officials appealed to the harassed Mumbaikars to report each and every instance of RTP to take effective action against the errant drivers.
Mumbaikars unaware that drivers cannot refuse passengers
Unfortunately, many Mumbaikars remain unaware that cab drivers cannot refuse passengers without a valid reason, and that passengers have the right to register a complaint against the offending driver. Some hesitate to report the incidents, believing that little will be done to rectify the situation. In response, they call for the state transport department to enact stricter laws against errant drivers to ensure that the situation improves.
"The issue of Refusal to Ply by taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers in Mumbai is a long-standing problem that continues to plague the city's commuters. It is heartening to see efforts like FPJ's campaign to shed light on the issue, but a collective effort involving both authorities and passengers is necessary to address this problem" said Laxmikant Shah of Borivali who works with a Nariman Point based law firm.
"Stricter enforcement of existing regulations, coupled with greater awareness among the public, can help to solve this issue " Shah said.
What to do?
Passengers facing RTP should politely remind drivers that they are not allowed to refuse a fare. If drivers don't pay heed, the aggrieved can call on helpline number 100.
To file a complaint, passengers should WhatsApp the details of the incident, including the registration number, location, time, and, if possible, a picture.
Mumbai city - 9076201010
Wadala - 9152240303
Andheri - 9920240202
Borivali - 8591944747
Complaints can also registered through emails
People can also send an email to FPJ (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the vehicle's photograph displaying the registration number. The FPJ will raise the issue promptly. It is essential to provide specific information about the incident and communicate in either English or Marathi.
Passengers can also share their grievances on social media platforms like X, with the hashtags #EndTaxiProblem and #EndRickshawProblem tagging @fpjindia