Prepaid cabbies claim cops extract bribes at CST, Kurla

Taxi unions allege that drivers of the prepaid cabs at the stations have to pay traffic cops so they can wait in queue at the designated stands for passengers

Its imposing structure notwithstanding, the chaos and bedlam surrounding CST is enough to throw off even the most seasoned traveller. To come to the aid of those who dismount from trains at this station laden with heavy luggage, the transport department inaugurated a prepaid taxi stand at the premises on March 15, so newcomers to the city aren't fleeced by regular cabbies.

Not-so-great beginnings: SK Sharma, principal secretary of the
transport department, inaugurated the prepaid taxi stand at CST on
Thursday, but problems have already cropped up. Pic/Atul Kamble

Within a week of its unveiling, however, a curious problem appears to have cropped up. Members of the taxi union have complained to the transport department and regional transport office (RTO) that they are facing harassment at the hands of traffic constables at the station, who demand money from them when they wait in queues for passengers. Those outside the Kurla station, which already has a functioning prepaid taxi stand, have reportedly lodged the same grievance.

"We have received complaints from the taxi drivers that the traffic policemen posted outside railway stations demand money in return for leave to queue up at the spot. We have informed the Transport department about this phenomenon. Such unfair practices will make it very difficult for our drivers to operate prepaid taxis," said AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen's Union.

Other taxi unions had similar complaints. "Drivers often have to pay money to the traffic cops in order to be allowed to wait at taxi stands outside stations. We are only hoping that this practice is stopped, as prepaid taxis will have to stand in queue," said AK Tiwari, secretary of the taxi wing of Swabhimaan Sanghatana, which will be operating outside CST railway station.

Regular cab drivers standing outside the stations claimed that they too have to pay traffic cops when they wait outside Kurla LTT, CST and other railway stations where long-distance trains make stops. Union leaders accepted that part of the blame should fall on the drivers, who have allowed the practice to flourish. "Quite often, they demand to see our documents, driving licence and other papers, and if we don't have them with us, we offer money," said a taxi driver on condition of anonymity.

With its inauguration on Thursday, the prepaid taxi stand at CST joined the league of stands at Kurla LTT, Dadar and Mumbai Central stations.

"I cannot comment on the issue until I get the complaint," said Brijesh Singh, additional commissioner, traffic.

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