'We are tired of their excuses'

On day 32 of MiD DAY's Meter Down campaign, it's the same old story and the vague excuses by auto drivers continue to mystify passengers and traffic constables

Place: Nirmal Lifestyle, Mulund
Time: 9.30 am to 11.30 am
Offenders caught 1
Commuter speaks: Ankita Rahate said, "I wanted to go to Chandivali but the auto driver flatly refused. Thankfully I got another rickshaw."

Why me? Auto driver can't believe his luck when he is penalised.
Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Auto Driver speak:

Ram Kori said, "I never refuse passengers but my only problem was that I needed to pick up school children who I ferry during school hours."

Text: Mukul Pawar

Place: Ghatkopar (East)
Time: 11.30 am to 1 pm and 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Offenders caught: 3
Commuters Speak: Fatima Khan, who was refused a fare to Chembur said, "There is no auto stand at Ghatkopar (East). We struggle to get a rickshaw at peak hours and when we approach them, they simply refuse to ply. Women passengers have to suffer the most from the drivers arrogant behaviour."

Mahesh Dalvi said, "I wanted to go to Indira Nagar, but the driver blatantly refused. I asked him thrice, but he ignored my pleas. Finally, I complained to the traffic cops and he was fined."

Clueless: The driver argued that he was unaware that it was illegal to
pick up passengers from a bus stop. pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Auto Drivers Speak:
Brahmadev Yadav, rickshaw driver, said, "A passenger, who had hired my auto, told me to wait as he wanted to purchase something. While I was waiting for the passenger to return, at least five passengers came running and approached me continuously. I refused these passengers. The traffic police fined me for refusing passengers. What should we do in such a situation?"

Suresh Lonkande, rickshaw driver said, "My rickshaw is from Bandra. After constantly taking fares without refusal, I reached Ghatkopar east. I was not familiar with the place and passenger who stopped me didn't know the place too, so I refused."

Text: Faisal G Tandel

Place: Outside Malad (West) station and opposite DMart superstore.
Time: 10 am - 12 pm and 5.30 pm - 7.30 pm
Offenders caught: 7
Commuters speak: Urvee Patil, whose office is near DMart on Malad-Link road said, "Refusals by errant rickshaw drivers is a problem that most commuters face on a daily basis, especially during peak hours. The RTO must take some stringent action that would compel these drivers to stop refusing and start plying passengers irrespective of their destinations."

Tanushree Thorat, whose office is at Interface, said, "I am tired of getting into an argument with errant rickshaw drivers every morning over refusals. Rickshaw drivers now notoriously use the provision of the half-down meter excuse to evade being caught for refusing passengers to short distances."

Manish Dey, whose office is at Mindspace, said, "The rickshaw unions held a strike demanding a fare hike and their demands were accepted. Now, it is the unions duty to ensure that their drivers do not refuse passengers wanting to ply to short distances."

Double Standards: No short fare, only distance. Pic/Rane Ashish  

Spot of Bother:
Rickshaw driver Nanhe Chaurasiya refused to ply a passenger named Ameya Sathye to Dmart, telling him that his shift time was over and he had to hand over his rickshaw to the other driver. However, as soon as another passenger approached Chaurasiya saying that he wanted to go to a distant destination, Chaurasiya readily agreed to ply. Miffed by the rickshaw driver's double standards, Sathye approached the traffic constables. Thereafter, Chaurasiya's licence was confiscated.

After refusing to ply four passengers to short distances, rickshaw driver Suresh Pandey was caught by the traffic constables. He argued, "Since, I had halted at a bus stop, I thought I will be fined if I take a fare from a bus stop as it is restricted."

Traffic constable Praveen Jadhav then asked driver Pandey, how many years he was driving a rickshaw? Pandey replied that he has been driving since the last 20 years.

The constable angrily said, "If you have been driving a rickshaw since past 20 years, don't you know that there is no such rule that restricts a rickshaw driver from accepting a fare near a bus stand. A fine may be levied on the driver only if he picks up a fare near an RTO approved rickshaw stand. These are basic things a rickshaw driver must know." Pandey's licence was confiscated.

Driver Dinesh Yadav was caught twice in one week at Dmart for refusing to ply passengers to short distance destinations. However, when we asked him the reason behind his constant refusals, he started laughing and showed no signs of remorse for denying fares to helpless passengers.

Text: Nivedita Dargalkar

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