Victory is in sight for taxi drivers who have been protesting the way in which their uniforms allow others to distinguish between those who own their vehicles and those who are employed to drive and it could well be a whitewash. The state transport department and taxi unions are most likely to finalise white as the colour for all uniforms, irrespective of whether the driver owns the vehicle or not.
In the system that is presently in place, permit holders and owners who drive their own vehicles wear white. Those who drive vehicles on rent have to don the khaki garb. The state government is on the verge of making the white uniform official across categories - for taxi drivers as well as owners. Many drivers have defied the rule that uses clothes to distinguish between taxi owners and drivers. “The state transport department is likely to release a general resolution soon on this. We have sent our demands to them,” said A Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
The union claims that taxi drivers are often fined by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) officers and traffic police for violating the rule. According to their statistics, nearly 75 per cent of the drivers prefer wearing the white uniform, as they feel it is more respectable. “The taxi unions have demanded this. We will take necessary steps and will make amendments in the laws after following the due process, once we go through the demands,” said SK Sharma, principal secretary (transport).
The matter took centrestage at a meeting earlier this month, when the unions spoke out against the segregation yet again. At present, there are nearly 36,000 black and yellow taxis in Mumbai, most of which are operated by two drivers in shifts.
Missing taxi stands also emerged as a matter of concern at another meeting between the taxi union and the transport department officials yesterday. Taxi union leaders said that 242 taxi stands would be installed within two months across the city and suburbs. For this, a sum of around Rs 60 lakh could be kept aside in the forthcoming state budget. In the second phase, the 300 missing taxi stands will also be reinstalled. Many of these stands were misplaced during developmental work, while others were stolen.
‘Don’t want uniforms’
In the past, the taxi drivers grumbling about the differentiation of uniforms for those who own cabs and those who drive them on rent basis, had said that they would prefer it if there was no uniform system at all. In a past letter, they had asked the state transport department to allow drivers to wear any type of clothes.
“This is total discrimination and the government should change this. Taximen should get options and be allowed to wear whatever they want irrespective of whether they own the taxi or not,” A L Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union had said at the time.
The number of taxis that ply on Mumbai’s roads