Mumbai: 'Lockdown worse than Emergency for taxi drivers,' says Taximen's Union leader

Updated: Jul 09, 2020, 08:07 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Kaali-peeli drivers want minimum fare hiked from Rs 22 to Rs 25; auto drivers want Rs 10K per month as bailout

Pic/Suresh Karkera
Pic/Suresh Karkera

The lockdown was worse for taxi drivers than the controversial Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) that had been enforced during the Emergency in the 1970s, said Mumbai Taximen's Union leader, Anthony L Quadros, at the Transport Task Force meeting held at the Andheri transport office on Wednesday. He pointed out that he had witnessed trying times back then.

The task force has been constituted by the Maharashtra government to look into reopening public transport modes under Mission Begin Again, and one of its first meetings with all transport stakeholders proved to be quite fiery, with taxi and auto unions calling for immediate re-opening of their businesses to save them.

'Waive off auto loans'
While the taxi unions called for a fare hike from the minimum Rs 22 to Rs 25 and monthly financial compensation, the Mumbai Automen's Union leader Shashank Sharad Rao said that all auto drivers should be given a monthly sum of R10,000 to bail themselves out, also calling for a waiver of auto loans.

Auto rickshaws parked in Kandivli during the lockdown. Pic/Satej Shinde
Auto rickshaws parked in Kandivli during the lockdown. Pic/Satej Shinde

"I thank the government for appointing me on the sub-committee, but frankly, many such panels have been appointed even in the past, and all such reports have remained on paper," Quadros said. The government had allowed drivers to take two essential passengers in taxis from June 5 and four persons from June 26.

'Withdraw cases against cabbies'
"The government rules are applicable to everyone. Cab aggregators have been violating every single rule and carrying more passengers, but the authorities have not touched them. Over 3,000 kaali-peeli taxi drivers have been penalised in the lockdown and issued e-challans, but not a single cab aggregator's driver. The police should withdraw all such cases," he added.

"Plane and train passengers, patients, government and BMC employees, doctors and medical health workers consist of only 10% of the total taxi users. Plane travellers have reduced to 5% due to closure of foreign flights. So basically the entire fleet of taxis in the city is being used by 5 per cent essential passengers. How will taxi operators survive?" Quadros asked.

Rao said that the fines and penalties collected by traffic police and RTO in various actions during the lockdown should also be returned, the e-challans withdrawn and all the seized vehicles released.

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