Mumbai: Stands? What is that, ask cab and auto drivers at Bandra-Kurla Complex
BKC, which is reeling from a public transport crisis, has just four legal taxi stands and one auto rickshaw stand; all five are non-operational even as drivers swarm bus stops to fleece commuters
Lack of auto rickshaw and taxi stands seems to be at the heart of the anarchy that prevails at Bandra-Kurla Complex. A review of the situation on the ground has shown that the existing four taxi and one auto stands in the area are in reality used for parking of public transport and private vehicles.
Auto and taxi drivers seem to have come up with stands at random spots in the business area, and pick up passengers from wherever they feel like. During peak hours, the autos and taxis park right in front of the offices waiting for long-distance fares, adding to the chaos and traffic jams in
Here's what mid-day found:
ICICI Bank (Main road side)
There are two stands for taxis and one for autos along the stretch. One of the stands can accommodate 15 taxis and the second stand, five. The only authentic auto stand approved by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Transport Authority, clearly mentions 'ICICI Bank to Bandra station (E) per passenger R12'. It is clear that at this fare, no autos are willing to operate from this spot.
ICICI Bank (inside road)
The scenario at the third taxi stand, which can accommodate 10 taxis, was not any different. The three or four taxis at this spot have been using the space to take a break. There were also several private vehicles parked illegally at the spot. Barely a few steps away, on the other side of the road, the autos have lined up outside ICICI Bank gates to pick up passengers as they exit the offices.
Diamond Market (Gate no-8)
Apart from a few taxis, we also found autos parked in the middle of the queue. Each one trying to overtake the other vehicle to woo passengers.
There are 10 to 15 autos lined up here at any given point, to ferry passengers to the station. They ferry more than three passengers and many times commuters are overcharged.
Diamond Market gate (Main road side)
Autos and taxis park right in front of the gate to pick up passengers as they exit the Diamond Market gate.
Bharat Nagar Signal (Main Road side)
This is a major signal at BKC at this spot, where auto and taxi drivers park near the bus stop trying to woo passengers waiting for the bus. Despite there being no legal stand here, the taxis and autos line both sides of the road.
Auto drivers demand more stands, but RTO shrugs off responsibility
Sanjay Jadhav, president of the Utkarsh Riksha Chalak Malak Sanghatan, blamed the authorities for not providing enough stands in Bandra East and BKC. He said, "We have asked the authorities to provide us at least 10 auto stands at BKC, but they are not listening to us. We got the first auto stand near ICICI Bank in 2012. Since then, the population and demand have increased, but we are yet to get more."
Jadhav added, "We have asked them to give stands from Bandra station east to MTNL, City Bank, Diamond Market, Laxmi Tower, ILFS, Government Colony, Joggers ark, Guru Nanak Hospital and MIG Club. The proposal is still pending; if we get these stands, it will be a major relief. Currently, because there are no stands there, officials fine our men upwards of Rs 210."
On the other hand, Abhay Deshpande, regional transport officer of the Andheri RTO, passed the buck. "Providing a stand is not in our hands. For that, there is a Stand committee, which includes officials from BMC or MMRDA, traffic division, local police and RTO. We first need the permission of the authority that owns the land, such as BMC or MMRDA. Once we get their permission, the local police will survey the land to rule out any law and order issues. After the police's NOC, the traffic department will inspect the area to ensure there will not be any traffic disturbance from a stand. Only after that do we set up a stand there."
'It's not fare'
Union leader Jadhav also said that auto drivers have been petitioning for a revision in the sharing rates. "The sharing rate printed on the stand is Rs 12 per passenger from ICICI to Bandra station. This rate was approved in 2010 by the RTO.
Since then, the general tariffs have increased, but our fares have not been changed," he said. But Deshpande argued, "Already share auto drivers get 33 per cent extra. They have no right to overcharge or fight with passengers, nor can they refuse to ply."
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