The lack of coordination between two government agencies the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and the Public Works Department (PWD) has come to the fore once again.
Taxis line up for meter recalibration at the Wadala RTO office. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Almost a fortnight after the RTO began road testing of auto rickshaws and taxis fitted with recalibrated meters on the Eastern Express Highway (EEH), the PWD has objected to it and claimed that the transport office did not take its permission.
Sources said the PWD has written to the Wadala RTO recently to air its grievances and point out that the RTO had not taken the necessary permissions from it. The Wadala RTO is conducting on-road testing of autos and taxis near Godrej Junction in Vikhroli on the crucial EEH, which is used by lakhs of vehicles every day to travel on stretches between Thane and Sion.
“We found that the RTO had not taken any permission from us to use the highway for tests, so we wrote to them about it. We want to ensure that there is, at least, an official mention of the problem in our records. After all, when the RTO is using our property, it should have applied for permission,” said a PWD engineer.
The PWD claims that drivers and permit holders have been throwing garbage, blocking service roads and even sitting along the EEH. They say the garbage flies onto the road and affects the concentration of drivers of other vehicles, which are driven at considerable speed on the highway.
While RTO officials acknowledged that they had received the letter, they pointed out that the PWD seems to have realised that the highway was being used by them only a fortnight after the tests began. “What is the point of asking us to take permission now, when the tests have already begun?” asked an RTO official, adding that the authority would reply to the PWD letter soon.
Taxis and auto rickshaws, which have the recalibrated electronic meters installed, have to undergo a physical run on the road for at least 2 km for the inspection of the new meters, which have the revised minimum fare of Rs 17 for auto rickshaws and Rs 21 for taxis. This physical approval is required before the vehicles can ply again.
The Wadala RTO has been recalibrating at least 1,700 auto rickshaw and 300 taxi meters every day, on an average. The process began on August 17, but was mired in complications like problems with chips, their shortage, disagreement over the cost of fitting them, and graft.