Mumbai: Over a month after the Mumbai traffic police initiated a drive against errant auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers for refusing to ferry passengers, data made available has revealed that over 36,000 challans were issued to curb the menace.
Statistics also revealed that most cases of refusal by auto-rickshaw drivers were witnessed in western suburbs, while most cases of refusal by taxi drivers were witnessed in south Mumbai.
On Oct 17, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Rajvardhan had issued after innumerable complaints of drivers refusing short-distance passengers. He had instructed police personnel to take action against errant drivers. As part of the order, boards were to be put up at railway stations and bus depots informing that action would be taken against those refusing to take passengers.
All police officers had been instructed to contact rickshaw and taxi organisations within their jurisdictions and arrange meetings to make them aware about the need for courteous behaviour with passengers and not refusing rides. In case of complaints, action is to be taken as per provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.
From Oct 17 till Nov 22, the traffic police have issued 24,867 traffic challans totalling to Rs12,43,350 against auto-rickshaw drivers. However, challans worth Rs11,96,900 are still unpaid. In this period, 11,629 challans were issued to taxi drivers, but challans worth Rs5,25,100 out of Rs5,81,450 are still unpaid. The numbers further revealed that most challans for refusal were in western Mumbai (13,928), followed by the eastern suburbs (6,090) and Central Mumbai (5,479). In cases of taxis, most challans were issued in south Mumbai (7,787), followed by Central Mumbai (3,570), the western (182) and the eastern suburbs (90).
As per section 178(3) in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, “if the holder of a permit or the driver of a contract carriage refuses (passengers), in contravention of the provisions of this Act… he shall, (a) in the case of two-wheeler or three-wheeler motor vehicles be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs50; and (b) in any other case, be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs200”. As per a traffic officer, most such cases are near railway stations, where offenders are caught and action is initiated.
Senior Police Inspector Mohan Patil from DN Nagar traffic police said, “Most drivers who received challans were caught on the spot. Passengers can alert the traffic police regarding violations and particular rickshaws/taxis will be fined. In case drivers don’t stop, we wait with passengers and penalise the next one who refuses. Commuters can also click pictures of number plates and tag us on our Twitter handle. But they should also provide their details while alerting us.”
Vis-à-vis verification of complaints, the senior inspector said that personnel from respective jurisdictions take up the case after confirming the passenger’s details. “We also make sure duplicate complaints are not uploaded against specific persons which probably indicate rivalry instead of authenticity,” he said.
Honestly speaking, I had no idea there’s something like challans for rickshaw/taxi drivers who refuse passengers. I am sure many others are still unaware of this rule and the fine. There should be greater awareness regarding this system of alerting cops.
Stany Fernandes, Malad
Every day, innumerable such instances are there. Auto-rickshaw drivers say they need to return without passengers from certain locations, which results in a monetary loss for them. But how is it a passenger’s problem?
Pankaj Kale, Dahisar
Near CSMT, every day I get a taxi only after two to three refusals. The rejection has become a routine. Sometimes I do think of reporting it to the traffic police but then I think it’s a hassle and let it go.
Aniket Pandey, Colaba
My experience with auto-rickshaws in Santacruz has been good by far. Most of them do agree for any location. However, the problem mostly occurs at night when vehicles are limited. I have also seen some passengers literally requesting drivers to take them after they refuse to take them.
Joslin Kurian, Santacruz
(With inputs from SHERINE RAJ)