Saturday, August 28, 2010

As night descends, auto-crats rule

As night descends, auto-crats rule
Ruman Qamar, Bangalore, Aug 27, DHNS:

Pre-paid auto stands, opened by the City police with much fanfare, seem to have failed to achieve their objective - of addressing the problem of autorickshaw drivers charging passenger excess fare, refusing to come to certain location and impolite behaviour.

The autorickshaw drivers have mastered the art of getting around even this system by targeting commuters during late evenings.

The pre-paid auto stand on MG Road is a telling case in point. Passengers take as many 400 autos during the weekdays and an extra 200 during weekends from the auto stand.

A traffic sub-inspector along with two or three constables are deployed at the stand to issue tickets indicating the fares. The queue of commuters waiting for the autos at the stand is seen till 11 pm to midnight.

But, soon after nightfall there would be no sign of these diligent traffic police personnel to monitor the auto stand. Instead, a gang of visibly arrogant auto drivers takes over, demanding exorbitant fares from the commuters, who have no choice but to cough up the extra bucks.

“I had to travel from MG Road to Old Airport Road at 10 pm. To my surprise I saw auto drivers asking the price instead of the traffic police. I silently agreed to pay Rs 150 as there was no other option,” said Meet Singh, an advertisement executive.

Traffic police personnel are supposed to be at the auto stands from 9.30 am to 9.30 pm after which the autorickshaw drivers start fleecing the passengers.

Some of the passengers wanted the police to man these pre-paid centres till late night as the police do to curb drunk driving in the night.

When his reaction was sought for this, DCP Traffic (East) B A Muthanna said: “We will look into the wrong doings taking places at the pre-paid stand. We will make necessary arrangements and try to deploy at least one constable at the spot till 11 am.”

Autorickshaw drivers in the City have a reputation of being rude and cheating the passengers by blatantly charging more than the meter fare and in many cases, doctoring the meters. Most commuters complain that the drivers often refuse to go to certain destinations and on many occasions, don’t return the change.

While unions have been claiming that they are trying to educate their members values such as polite behaviour, not overcharging the passenger, such claims do not pass muster on the ground. The autocracy continues.

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