It's taxi drivers vs traffic cops, as cab stands disappear in Mumbai
Claiming 600 taxi stands have 'disappeared', taxi union leader threatens to instruct drivers to park where stands once stood; you won't be spared, warns Joint CP (traffic)
Spared from the perennial parking problem in Mumbai so far, taxi drivers have now suddenly started to feel the pinch with the mysterious disappearance of hundreds of taxi stands across the city.
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This taxi stand at CST is one of the few still standing in South Mumbai. Taxi unions claim 600-odd taxi stands have ceased to exist, leading to a loss of 3,000 parking slots. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Many of them have resorted to double parking, but were completely unprepared for the way the traffic police have started cracking down on them with fines over the past week or so.
Complaining that the cops are unnecessarily targeting them, the cabbies say they will refuse to pay fines for double-parking when they have no other option.
“At least 600-odd taxi stands have gone missing across Mumbai. Taxi drivers are forced to find other parking spots or resort to double parking. We have told the drivers that if traffic cops catch them double-parking at notified taxi stands where the signboards have gone missing, they need not pay fines. They should call the union’s office and confirm the location and we will inform the traffic cop present there,” said A L Quadros, the chief of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
Read Story: 'Begging' fulfils cabbies' taxi stand demands
There was a taxi stand at this spot in Parel earlier, but it has ceased to exist. Cabbies said hundreds of stands had gone missing across the city, forcing them to double-park. Pic/Onkar Devlekar
However, this has now resulted in a bitter stand-off, as the traffic cops are also adamant they will not allow double parking or any other violation.
“We will continue to catch cabbies and levy fines if they commit traffic offences. There is no way that double parking will be tolerated. Many taxis are also involved in rash and negligent driving and few do not have permits or are involved in other violations. So, we take action,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Milind Bharambe.
– AL Quadros, Leader Mumbai Taximen’s Union
Yesterday, a hundred-odd drivers of black-and-yellow cabs launched a demonstration at Wadala and Parel, protesting the R100 fines each time they are caught double parking. They said they were being targeted by the traffic police for no fault of theirs, as they had lost their parking slots with several stands going missing throughout the city, especially in south Mumbai and between Lalbaug and Dadar.
Milind Bharambe, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic)
This has forced them to jostle with the common man for limited parking slots, but with 25 lakh private vehicles in the city, along with thousands of fleet cabs and tourist taxis, parking has become a sore issue for black-and-yellow cabbies.
Each stand accommodates five cabs, so by that calculation, parking capacity for 3,000 cabs has been lost. Officials from the Regional Transport Office said it was the BMC’s responsibility to ensure there were enough stands for the taximen.
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“At times, due to road work, there could be instances where the signboard, notifying a spot as a taxi stand, gets removed. Sometimes the board falls. However, we have now received requests from the Transport department and shall soon call tenders for the same,” said a BMC official.
Sources said that around 900 taxi stands — including those for shared taxis — have been proposed across the city at a cost of at least R5,000 each. Officials added that the initial survey for this would begin in the days to come.
The corporation is also working to create around 56,000 parking spaces — multi-storeyed, underground and on ground — across Mumbai. However, these will be pay-and-park facilities, which will not help the cabbies, said union leaders.
Joint CP Bharambe was also of the opinion that there is a genuine need for more taxi stands in the city, and said that he had also proposed the same. “I have asked the authorities to suggest spots in every 500 metres where taxi stands can be placed. This will benefit citizens, who currently have to struggle to find cabs,” he said.
Number of black-and-yellow taxis in Mumbai
Number of new taxi stands proposed