Menace of errant auto rickshaw drivers will end in one week, assures traffic ACP
Traffic ACP S Veeresh Prabhu to personally monitor the situation for a week as the police intensify drive against errant drivers
The picture at BKC and Bandra East on Wednesday was quite different from that on Tuesday. Following a series of reports in mid-day on the auto menace around these locations, the police yesterday deployed an additional force, including some senior-level officers to monitor the situation on ground. At least 179 errant drivers were resultantly booked outside Bandra East.
The drive against auto mafias that began on Sunday, had almost fizzled out by Tuesday with the deployment of a handful of police officers at the spot and passengers being rebuffed.
Commuters said that only places with police presence made a difference while chaos continued at other locations
After mid-day reported about the hardships faced by office-goers every day in finding an auto and dealing with the drivers' behaviour, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar came down heavily on the force and ensured police visibility at all locations in question. On Wednesday, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) S Veeresh Prabhu was himself seen on the roads to incorporate changes in tackling traffic woes outside Bandra East station. The traffic cops ended up fining more than 179 auto drivers at BKC and Kurla on Wednesday. A fine of more than Rs 50,000 was collected.
Commissioner orders barricading
After monitoring the situation for more than two hours, Prabhu ordered putting up barricades and making separate lanes for autos dropping passengers at Bandra station. Also, drivers were not allowed to drop passengers right in front of the railway station FOB which would cause severe traffic jam earlier. Prabhu zeroed in on crucial junctions such as ICICI Bank, Diamond Market, Trade Centre, MTNL Office and Bharat Nagar signals where office-goers hunt for autos, and deployed extra manpower there.
Commuters hail action
Commuters were in for a huge relief on Wednesday at BKC and Bandra East thanks to the police presence during peak hours, that ensured them smooth rides. The barricading helped control traffic, too.
"The traffic issues here are more because of the narrow lanes and the heavy footfall during peak hours — close to five lakh. Also, owing to the lack of an FOB, commuters are forced to cross the lane to reach the bus stops, thus halting vehicular traffic," said ACP (Traffic) Prabhu. As far as the role of auto drivers is concerned, "we are taking it on top priority and also discussing this with auto unions to sensitise them," he said, adding, "I will be monitoring the situation for the next one week to clear this traffic menace."
Police Inspector Sanjay Khatale of Bandra Traffic Division said that challans were issued for refusing rides, driving without licence, violating traffic rules etc. "We have been doing so on a daily basis during peak hours. The new FOB connecting the railways and the roads can provide some relief. We are now deploying more staff at the station and BKC," Khatale said.
Cops plan surprise checks
To ensure that action against the auto mafia continues to succeed, the traffic police will now pose as office-goers. "The drive will continue. From today, I have asked my staff, dressed in civil clothes, to keep a check on auto drivers. They will board the autos as passengers and fine them on the spot if and when necessary," Prabhu added. Mustaq Mansoori, 37, a member of the auto-rickshaw union affiliated with the Shiv Sena, said, "We have been helping cops sensitise auto drivers about dealing with the commuters, especially during peak hours."
'Cops at Bandra East will disappear in a few days'
'I have been taking an auto from Bandra East to my office in BKC for the past 10 years. Today there is huge police presence and the media is highlighting the harassment by errant drivers. I am sure these cops will disappear in a few days and things will go back to square one in Bandra East'
Ajinkya Baghade, 35
'I have been staying in Government Colony, Bandra East, for the past 10 years. The auto drivers' issue was at its worst about a year back. But things have changed in the past seven months. The situation can be improved even more if cops are deployed during peak hours here'
Praveen Mulla, 37
'I got an auto in my first attempt after 10 years' 'Every day I face problems with public transport in BKC. I am happy to see the changes in the temperament of drivers. Earlier, they always said no to us but today are agreeing to ferry passengers in one request'
'I have been working at different construction sites in BKC for 10 years, but never got an auto in my first attempt. I always have to waited [at Bharat Nagar] for 15/20 minutes. But today, I got an auto in my first attempt'
Priti Dubey, 33
'It is rare that I get an auto without trouble. Today, things were different as the cops were present. We hope this continues at BKC'
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