Despite frequent drives by the traffic police to check fleecing of autorickshaw passengers, auto drivers continue to demand exorbitant fares at the Sangamwadi private bus stand by falsely claiming that the rickshaw stand is a designated pre-paid booth.
The spot is not even a registered rickshaw stand. To avoid the heavy traffic jams in the city, private inter-city buses take a halt near Sangamwadi Bridge. Passengers who take overnight buses from places like Amaravati, Nagpur, Akola and Nanded reach Sangamwadi early in the morning, around 8 am or 9 am.
When these passengers seek a rickshaw at the spot, the drivers refuse to use the meter and charge anything from Rs 150 to Rs 300. They also refuse to go short distances, like the core city areas of Shivaji Nagar and Deccan.
A rickshaw driver who was asked to go to Kothrud sought Rs 150 for the trip. Asked the reason for not using the meter, he said: “This is an authorised pre-paid rickshaw booth. Nobody will use the meter and charges for each area are fixed.”
He refused to give his name or the autorickshaw number and said:: “No autorickshaw driver will give you service if you complain.”
IT professional Nilesh Dhavale, who had a similar experience, said: “Recently, for Swargate they demanded Rs 200, which is almost three times more. Commuters don’t have any option but to pay the money because they have made their own system and no one uses the meter. To get another rickshaw you have to cross the bridge and go to Wakadewadi, which is a distance of around a kilometre; it is not possible for senior citizens or commuters having luggage.”
Traffic DCP Vishwas Pandhare said: “We’ve been taking action against these autorickshaw drivers and even succeeded in controlling such incidents. Recently we took action at Sangamwadi Bridge and Sancheti Hospital. But after a few days these rickshaw drivers start the practice again. We will again conduct the drive at Sangamwadi. We are appealing to people to complain against the drivers who are charging extra fare or refusing service.”
Pre-paid only at Pune rly station
The Pune railway station rickshaw stand is the only prepaid booth in the city. There is a proper, computerised system for deciding the fare. For every area of the city there is a specific fare, which is generated by the specialised software. Identity cards and complete information on the auto-rickshaw driver are stored in the computer at the booth.