Ever since the announcement was made last year, automobile enthusiasts have been waiting with bated breath for the auction of motorbike models organised by the Central Railway (CR) authorities. The wait ended in a giant letdown at Wadi Bunder yesterday, with buyers infuriated by the deplorable condition of the vehicles and the exorbitant reserve prices quoted by authorities.
A sad array of 40 two-wheelers was lined up at the yard in Wadi Bunder yard, failing to inspire any excitement among buyers. A 1970 model of the Royal Enfield Bullet, which had been touted as the centerpiece in the auction, gave rise to consternation over its poor condition. Moreover, buyers claimed that the reserved price was arbitrarily raised from Rs 35,000 to Rs 64,000.
Prakash Rathod made the last bid for the bike at Rs 34,000, but officials allegedly did a sudden volte-face and made the sudden announcement that they had chosen to raise the reserved price to Rs 64,000. This was followed by an angry outburst from Rathod, who threatened authorities that he would file a complaint against them.
Sahil Khan, a mechanic who saw the bike, said, “The buyer should not have to pay more than Rs 5,000 for this Enfield as it is very difficult to get the spare parts and other ancillaries due to its old age. The buyer will have to spend a minimum of Rs 15,000 to bring the bike back to working condition.”
As the auction progressed, there was mounting confusion and disagreement between the railway authorities and infuriated buyers. Buyers alleged that that railway officials changed the base prices on the tags after bidding was completed. Railway authorities denied it, and chaos reigned.
Though 150 buyers had congregated to bid for 40 bikes, the railway auctioneers could only managed to sell one over its reserved base price – a Luna, set at a base price of Rs 3,500 and sold for Rs 4,100.
“If they had increased the prices of the bikes, they should have informed us,” said a buyer who came from Virar.
The auction is expected to be a completed today, but the response on Day 1 has upset railway authorities. “We will have to think again about the bikes which are still lying with us. We could only sell one bike above the reserved price,” said an official.
Yesterday’s date was fixed after a slew of cancellations and postponements. “The condition of the bikes was deteriorating and there are many parts which are missing,” added the official.
The Other Side
A K Singh, PRO, CR, said, “There was no miscommunication and it was done properly. There are people who don’t know the rules of the auction. We have reserved a price for each bike and it is sold if we received bids above that.”
The railway officials are responsible for miscommunication. Now they are announcing new prices and tagging bikes at Rs 60,000-70,000, when their actual price is no more than Rs 5,000-10,000.”
— Nilesh Ugale, Chembur
Railway authorities had promised the bikes to some people and so they started quoting higher prices for each bike. Why should I buy the old bike for the price of a brand new bike?”
— Moushin Qauzar, Grant Road
If the officials will not release the revised rate of the particular bike, how will we know what the base prices are? I had bid Rs 34,000 for the Bullet, which they rejected saying that the revised rate is Rs 64,000. If they refuse to handover the bike, I will file a complaint.”
— Prakash Rathod, Dongri