Mumbai RTOs begin crackdown on touts, to secure entry points

The new State Transport Commissioner, Mahesh Zagade, caught an illegal agent ferrying documents last week at Andheri; all RTOs will now place security guards at the entrance to bar touts from entering the premises

It took a visit from the Transport Commissioner for the authorities to wake up to rein in the menace of illegal agents at Regional Transport Offices (RTOs). Last week, the new state Transport Commissioner, Mahesh Zagade, caught a tout red-handed at the Andheri RTO.

From tomorrow, 3-4 security guards will make sure touts do not enter the premises of the RTOs in the city. File pic
From tomorrow, 3-4 security guards will make sure touts do not enter the premises of the RTOs in the city. File pic

Zagade then ordered all RTOs to take strict action in order to block the illegal agents from entering RTO premises. Acting on these orders, RTOs are all set to get security at their entry-cum-exit points. Sources said that earlier last week, during one of Zagade’s routine visits to the Andheri RTO, he saw an illegal agent carrying a bunch of filled applications and forms within the premises. When Zagade asked the tout for ID, the agent said he was not a staff member of the RTO.

“He claimed he helped people in filling up forms and then submitting them, and that he has never caused any problems to anyone,” said sources. However, Zagade immediately informed him what he was doing is illegal and asked the RTO officials to take further action and hand him over to the police. Zagade confirmed this incident but did not comment any further.

Tighter security
After this incident, the commissioner ordered that security measures be strengthened at RTOs across the state, and especially in Mumbai. Sources said that at every RTO now, entry/exit points to the premises would be secured.

For instance, fencing work at the Andheri RTO, which recently got new building premises, has been expedited. Entry points will also be guarded. “The system of illegal agents at RTOs is an old problem, but we are looking at stopping it somewhere,” said a Transport department official.

Officials said that at all RTOs, at least 3-4 security guards would be placed; these guards will now ask every single person entering the premises, his/her purpose for doing so. On an average, all three city RTOs Andheri, Tardeo and Wadala see around 1,200 people combined only for getting a driver’s licence; another 1,000-odd people come for getting their learner’s licence and several others for procuring fitness certificates for their vehicles, including taxis and auto rickshaws.

“It is a tough task checking them (touts) and there will be problems initially. But, we will try to do it,” said an RTO official. Illegal agents are normally seen standing outside the premises; and many a times, even inside the offices of these RTOs.

They freely mingle with the staff there, get signatures on forms from these officials which they carry in bulk and even take money for the ‘work’ they do, with ease. The touts are hand-in-glove with the RTO officials in checking of taxis and auto rickshaws.

Officials also claim that the RTOs with their vast open space invariably become parking lots for people, who park their two-wheelers in the morning and take it in the evening hours. Stationing guards at the entrance would also prevent RTOs from becoming free parking spaces.

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