Already reeling under stiff competition, fleet cab operators such as TABcab, Meru and Easy Cabs can now expect more trouble, with the Transport Department cracking down on taxis plying without the mandatory documentation.
Since last week, the Tardeo RTO has seized at least 21 vehicles belonging to fleet cab operator TABcab
Since last week, the Tardeo Regional Transport Office (RTO) has already impounded at least 21 taxis belonging to TABcab for not possessing a valid road fitness certificate. TABcab was launched in 2010, and as per figures from the Transport Department, it owns the highest number of air-conditioned cabs.
According to sources, RTO authorities recently caught a few cabs plying with expired fitness certificates. This came as a surprise to the officials, as cabbies are usually careful when it comes to meeting such norms, and they regularly turn up at the RTO to renew the fitness certificate.
Of the 21 cabs that were seized, most had certificates that had expired in 2014, but were still ferrying passengers. Some were caught plying on the road, while others were caught when they came to renew the certificate after it had already lapsed. This is a serious violation of Rule 62 of Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
As per this law, commercial vehicles with yellow licence plates should undergo annual checks to ascertain road-worthiness. Not holding a valid certificate makes the owner liable for fines between R2,000 to R5,000, as it implies the vehicle is not fit for the road and could endanger passengers, motorists or pedestrians.
Without the paperwork, even insurance companies can deny claims, in case of an accident. Now, the Transport department has asked all the RTOs in the city to inspect fleet cabs and check whether their papers are in order. “We have asked all the RTOs to begin checking fleet cabs through surprise drives,” said a senior Transport department official.
“We have begun the drive to check all the fleet cabs that are not maintaining their certificates,” said S Pedamkar, deputy regional transport officer at Tardeo, the state’s first RTO. An official from TABcab said, “We ensure that all our vehicles are fit for running. But now, after the cabs were impounded, we have decided to internally inspect all our vehicles.”
New policy for cabs
While fleet taxis currently fall under the purview of the state’s Phone Fleet Taxi Scheme introduced in 2010, the Transport department has prepared a draft policy — City Taxi Scheme, 2015, which will act as unified policy for fleet cabs and their main competitors, mobile-based aggregators such as Uber and Ola.
>> As per the rule 62 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989, fitness certificates are mandatory for heavy vehicles, as well as public transport vehicles
>> Before issuing a fitness certificate, RTO officials carry out a physical inspection of the vehicles and drive them to test their road-worthiness
>> Fitness certificates are valid for one year for old transport vehicles and two years for new ones
>> For private vehicles, the first fitness certificate is valid for 15 years, to be renewed every 5 years
>> The Motor Vehicle Act 1989 stipulates a fine of R100 for failure to produce a fitness certificate the first time, and Rs 300 for subsequent offences
Meru: 1,300 taxis
TABcab: 2,800 taxis
Easy cabs: 600 taxis
(Statistics from Transport dept)