Driven by constant complaints from commuters about auto rickshaw drivers refusing to ply, the traffic police launched a special drive three days ago. In a bid to ensure that the auto rickshaw drivers in the city get the picture, the traffic police decided to not just fine them, but also sought cooperation from the Regional Transportation Office (RTO) to have their licences temporarily suspended. So far, the police have booked 650 auto rickshaw drivers for refusing to ply and succeeded in collecting Rs 80,000 in fines.
Vishwas Pandhare, DCP (Traffic) said that his department does not have the authority to suspend licences, but the concerned department of the RTO will be dealing with such cases in future. “Their licenses could be suspended for seven to 30 days depending upon the nature of offence. We can only collect fines, but we don’t have the authority to suspend licenses. Hereafter, all impounded licenses will be sent to the RTO for further action,” Pandhare said.
Pandhare added that the special drive against errant auto rickshaw drivers would continue over the next two months. Responding to the request put in by the traffic police, Deputy RTO, Sanjay Dhaygude said, “We are ready to cooperate with the drive and the RTO has a special helpline for commuters to call in and complain against auto rickshaw drivers refusing to ply, misbehaviour or meter tampering. After receiving such complaints, we will suspend the drivers’ licences.”
“We have deployed policemen in civil dress and also women constables around stands to tackle errant rickshaw drivers. We found out that the ratio of refusal is not much at rickshaw stands. Drivers waiting near bus stands or the railway station area generally refuse to ply short distances. According to the law, auto rickshaw drivers cannot refuse to ply. When they are displaying a ‘for hire’ board, it means they don’t have a choice and cannot refuse to ply, regardless of location or distance,” said Mahadev Gawade, PI, Traffic Planning.
Vishwas Sahastrabuddhe, civic activist and representative of Commuter’s Cell of Sajag Nagrik Manch said, “We welcome the drive. Volunteers of the manch are supporting the traffic police to bring errant auto rickshaw drivers to book. We have demanded that the police should make a continuous effort to deter such activities.”