RTOs change gears, penalise cabbies without updated e-meters
As thousands of taxi drivers chose to ignore the Nov 25 cut-off date, authorities have started imposing penalties and impounding vehicles; unsurprisingly, taxi unions have once again asked for more time
Despite the deadline meant for taxis and auto rickshaws in the city to calibrate their meters having expired on Sunday, not much has changed on the streets as drivers continue to pull numbers out of thin air when quoting the fare. But now the regional transport offices (RTOs) across the city have decided to put brakes on these errant men behind the wheels, by levying fines on the spot. Thus, sources say, nearly 9,000 black-and-yellow taxis are contemplating going off the roads temporarily, fearing stringent action.
As a practice, many cabbies continue to spell out the tariff at the end of a journey, irrespective of whether they have e-meters or mechanical ones. Some even refuse to furnish a rate card when asked to do so.
“These taxi drivers have not been taking cognisance of deadlines seriously. Most of them wait till the eleventh hour to get their meters attuned,” said M Jadhav, RTO officer from Tardeo. On November 27, Tardeo RTO punished 16 black-and-yellow taxis that were plying without standardised e-meters. A fine of Rs 600 was collected from each and the vehicles were impounded.
The previous day, six cabbies had met with the same fate. However, taxi unions and drivers are blaming RTOs for the delay in the switch.
“RTOs don’t have sufficient infrastructure and staff to calibrate the e-meters and are unfairly blaming us. We have now requested them to extend the cut-off date till December 8 and not impose any fines till then,” said AL Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
About 37,000 black-and-yellow taxis ply in Mumbai, of which 9,000 have mechanical meters, and the remaining have electronic ones. According to data available, nearly 19,000 taxis have completed calibration of their e-meters till now. The fleet has lost strength — from 42,000 taxis to 37,000 — in recent years.