One of the oldest automobile associations' of the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) has come to the aid of auto-rickshaw drivers. They have proposed to take up all the works that are needed to be done at Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) plus look after their welfare as well.
Usually, as part of the annual Road Safety Week programmes, eye tests of these auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, health checkups, and other training programs are carried out by WIAA.
This time, however, they are in talks with the unions to get the works done for these auto drivers as well as ensure that the welfare and medical insurance of their families are taken care of. This comes at a time when earlier last week the Mumbai auto-rickshaw union called for several welfare measures to be taken up for their drivers.
Sources said that the issues included suspension of distribution of permits and licences to government employees who own and run rickshaws, depriving auto drivers of it. The union has also sought monthly allowance to keep the industry floating, as pandemic losses have been mounting.
"We want to provide help in some ways possible be it completing RTO documentation or even for the welfare of the rickshaw drivers. We have approached the auto-rickshaw union," said Nitin Dossa, President of Western India Automobile Association.
The unions claim that the welfare of their drivers is of utmost importance. The auto-rickshaw union leaders claim that the welfare of the drivers includes medical insurance and expenses; which has not been done by the state government despite repeated reminders.
In a letter written to Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab the Mumbai Autorickshaw Taximen's union leader Shashank Rao has said that it is time the government stepped in to bail out the sinking auto industry and offer a monthly allowance to poor drivers to keep them going.
"We have been approached by the WIAA. We will be able to understand the extent of their help once we have a formal meeting," said Shashank Rao.
The pandemic has hit the auto-rickshaw industry as well due to poor patronage. The unions have demanded compensation of Rs 10,000 per month to keep them going and set up a welfare board as well.
The WIAA claims that they want to help these auto-rickshaw drivers as they have the available infrastructure plus their organisation is identified by the government.
The auto drivers claim that they also need a proper organisation to back them especially with many burdened by vehicle loans for which they need to pay the EMIs whether business happens or not.