Mumbaikars who depend on taxis for their daily commute, be warned that, for the days to come, there may be fewer taxis on the roads.
The Mumbai Central RTO, which issues hundreds of taxi fitness certificates every day, has been barred by the Bombay High Court from conducting fitness tests until the time it locates a long enough track for testing cabs (see box).
Without the certificates, drivers of many taxis, which are up for renewal of certificates, are likely to keep off the roads because driving without this crucial permit can set them back by a fine of Rs 2,000.
“Every day, at least a 100 taxis come to our RTO for renewing fitness certificates,” said K Golani, regional transport officer of the Mumbai Central RTO, which has 25,600 of the city’s total 32,000 taxis registered with it.
A source said, “Without fitness certificates, drivers are unlikely to get their black-and-yellow taxis on road, fearing heavy fines. If a driver is caught without the certificate, he can be fined Rs 2,000. So the drivers ensure they have it, and also that it is renewed much before the deadline.”
If they drive with an invalid certificate, they are liable to be fined Rs 1,200 when the certificate expires, as per the Motor Vehicles Act. Moreover, if the driver fails to renew his certificate 10 days after expiry, they have to cough up an additional Rs 100 per day.
Officials have been scouting for land to conduct the tests. “We are looking at a plot in Cotton Green where an empty land is available,” said an officer.
4 RTOs can’t conduct fitness tests
The High Court has restrained RTOs of Mumbai Central, Pune, Nashik and Latur from carrying out fitness checks on vehicles, as they didn’t meet the required infrastructural norms. On Feb 28, the HC had directed all 49 RTOs in the state to provide the infrastructure necessary for the tests, by March 10.
Brake test: 400-m tracks needed
As per the Motor Vehicles Act, it is mandatory for the RTOs to have 400 metres of road track for testing. The vehicles are made to run at a speed of 40 km per hour and asked to brake, so the authorities find out how well the brakes work. The 4 RTOs banned from issuing fitness certificates have just 250-m road tracks for carrying out the brake test.