Transport Minister Diwakar Raote cops out of acting against auto mafia, blames traffic for menace

Updated: Feb 14, 2019, 15:57 IST | Suraj Ojha | Mumbai

Diwakar Raote passes the buck to traffic police, stating his department can't do anything until the cops bring errant drivers to their notice

For the past couple of weeks, the traffic police have cracked down hard on the auto mafia in the city. File Pic
For the past couple of weeks, the traffic police have cracked down hard on the auto mafia in the city. File Pic

Diwakar Raote, state minister for transport, has thrown his hands up in the air when it comes to the autorickshaw mafia in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), claiming his department can't do anything about it. Instead, he made a bizarre suggestion that commuters should opt for BEST buses, even though it is common knowledge that bus services are few and far between in the business hub.

BKC's public transport facilities are notoriously lacking, an issue this has reported on several times in the past. There has been renewed focus on this, though, ever since a viral video emerged of an auto driver attacking a passenger. After this video surfaced, Raote was one of the first authorities to order stringent action against the driver.

Diwakar Raote suggested that BKC commuters take the bus instead. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Diwakar Raote suggested that BKC commuters take the bus instead. Pic/Suresh Karkera

mid-day, through the 'Meter Frown' campaign, has been highlighting the plight of commuters similarly harassed or fleeced across the city. Faced with much wider outrage over the auto mafia in the city, however, Raote has fobbed off all responsibility on the police.

According to him, his department - the Regional Transport Office (RTO) - can only take action when the police bring errant auto/taxi drivers to their notice. "The actual responsibility to take action against such auto drivers is in the hands of the police department. The cops have all the power, and they cannot pass the buck to any other department," said the state transport chief.

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Bizarrely, despite knowing about the lack of bus services in BKC during peak hours, Raote suggested that commuters can simply take a bus if they are getting fleeced by auto drivers. He blamed office-goers for not using buses enough, allowing the auto mafia to build a sort of monopoly.

But according to daily commuters at BKC, due to inadequate public transportation, it usually takes a minimum of 40 minutes to an hour just to get to the nearest station from their offices. Due to poor bus frequency, hundreds of office-goers at BKC are left with little choice but to depend on auto drivers who overcharge them.

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