Coolies escort passengers alighting from long-distance trains at Borivli station to the 'friendly' auto stand where rickshaw drivers fleece them by charging steep fares
Rickshaw drivers in the city are known for their ingenuity when it comes to refusing short distance passengers. But a syndicate of auto drivers plying from Borivli (East) has taken their cunningness to an altogether different level.
The porters are paid a percentage of the fixed fare after delivering
passengers to the autos; while short distance commuters are left
waiting for hours to get a rickshaw
They have chalked out a master plan to rake in money from helpless commuters and at the same time avoid being caught on charges of refusal and soliciting by the traffic police.
Working in connivance with porters [coolies], drivers refrain from directly asking out-station passengers, who alight at Borivli station, for fares, but have tied up with the porters who directly bring the passengers to them.
"The porters, in return, get paid a percentage of the pre-determined fare for bringing in hapless passengers," said Assistant Sub Inspector, Pravin Gaikwad from Borivli traffic police station.
A porter, on condition of anonymity, agreed to the presence of a thriving driver-porter nexus. He said, "Every porter has tied up with a rickshaw driver outside the station.
Charges for plying start from Rs 300 onwards and increase depending on the distance to be commuted. For every fare we bring in, we get a cut that is in proportion with the deal that has been struck. It's a win-win situation for both of us."
The rickshaw drivers deliberately park their vehicles outside the station, but are not present in their vehicles when local train commuters approach the autos to hire their services.
As soon as the porters bring the passengers to the auto, the driver asks the passenger to pay a fixed price, inclusive of luggage, which is always exorbitant, depending on the destination.
The ones who suffer, however, are local passengers and residents residing in Borivli who are stranded at the station for hours with no rickshaws available to ply them to short distances.
Shubhada Khare, a commuter, said, "The rickshaw drivers just park their vehicles near the station and are not to be found inside the vehicle. Short distance passengers suffer a lot because of this mean attitude of the drivers."
"The drivers distinctively wait for out-station passengers as it is lucrative. We have booked these drivers several times on charges of soliciting. However, there is no change in their conduct and they get back to their devious ways the very next day," said Inspector Gaikwad.
Despite repeated attempts, Western regional transport officer A N Bhalchandra was unavailable for comment, as he wasn't answering telephone calls made to him.
The Other Side
Sadanand Patil, secretary Mumbai Auto-drivers and Taximen Association said, "I accept that our drivers park their rickshaws at the station and are not found inside the vehicle when local travellers come in. But I disagree that my drivers have any kind of setting with porters."
He further added, "As far as not plying by the meter and demanding excess fare is concerned, I have a point to make.
Are rickshaw drivers only supposed to do social work for people? Don't they have a family and daily expenses of their own?
Also, there have been a few instances when the passengers themselves have asked us to decide upon a fixed price for the fare instead of plying by the meter."