Coronavirus in Mumbai: Now, Transport Union demands removal of 'essential services' tag

In the new lockdown relaxations, applicable from August 1, the state government has allowed kaali peeli taxis to ferry three passengers which was earlier restricted to two passengers only. However in the circular, it was clearly highlighted that the vehicles are allowed to carry those who are in 'essential services' only.

Since the state initiated the 'Mission Begin' campaign, representative bodies of taxis and Autorickshaws have demanded to ease relaxations on the transport entities considering these are the only mode of public transport for Mumbaikars other than BEST buses.

Representative bodies of the kaali Peelis however stated that unless the government removes the 'essential passengers only' tags from the circulars, operating on road will continue to be tough for them.

"The government order has stated that Kaali Peelis and rickshaws are allowed to ferry only those who are in essential services. In case we carry anyone employed in private sectors or engaged in non-essential sector, there's a chance that police may book us" stated Al Quadros, head of Mumbai taximen's Association.

Quadros stated, now that the government has started phase wise opening of shopping malls and markets it also needs to think about easing the norms in public transports as well.

"The malls and markets are opening. In south Mumbai kaali peelis are the most common mode of transport, now that the government is allowing more relaxations, it should also officially allow taxis and rickshaws to ferry any commutter as well" stated

The association has also written to the government of Maharshtra requesting a hike in fares to which, the state government is yet to give a nod.

Meanwhile the same demand has been made by Autorickshaw associations as well and it's expected, that soon there will be a hike in auto fares.

"We have passed a new formula for fare hike which has been approved by state and is awaiting approval at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) committee" stated Thampy Kurien, general secretary Mumbai Rickshawmen association.

"The fare hike is likely to happen soon as there have been no hike in the last five years " stated Kurien.

According to Kurien, the new base fare for first 1.5 kilometres will be Rs 20 and with each kilometre there will be an addition of Rs 2 in the meter. The present base fare stand at Rs 18.

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