All this while, we have been hearing about how commuters are fed up of the arrogance and refusal to ply attitude exhibited by the cabbies, but there is another side to this story. And in this one, cabbies claim to be the victims. Drivers of the black and yellow taxis say they are being constantly harrowed by traffic police, who tow their cabs away the moment they see an unmanned one, to such an extent that they have stopped taking breaks to answer nature’s call or grab food when hungry, for fear of losing their vehicles.
Ramesh Singh, a taxi driver from Goregaon, said his cab has been towed away on several occasions while he had taken a loo break. “This has become a headache. We don’t have space where we can park our taxis legally, and this forces us to skip toilet and food breaks,” said Singh.
Another driver from Andheri, Vishal Pawar, said he has been driving a taxi for the last 12 years and has been facing the issues ever since.
“Why should we be charged for taking a toilet or lunch break? We have been complaining about this nuisance to our unions for a long time now, but nothing has happened till date,” he said.
‘Give us a breather’
In a letter written to the traffic police commissioner, taxi unions have mentioned that most of the public toilets were located either at important junctions, or close to no parking areas. And it was from such locations that most of the unmanned taxis were being towed. They even complained about unattended taxis being towed away from legal taxi stands by the traffic police.
Anthony L Quadros, general secretary for Mumbai taximen’s union, said, “Many a time, taxi drivers park their vehicle outside public toilets to use the facility, and it is during this period that their vehicles are taken into custody. I have written to the traffic department, requesting it to issue necessary instructions for not doing so.”
The other side
Commenting on the issue of towing, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Dr B K Upadhyay, told mid-day, “I have given instructions to the traffic staff that if the parked taxis are not obstructing smooth flow of the traffic, then the vehicles need not be towed away.”
Car or jeep: Rs 360
Taxi: Rs 270
Auto: Rs 180
Two-wheeler: Rs 180