Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cheating auto drivers get away

Cheating auto drivers get away

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Auto driverstampering with meters and fleecing commuters have luck on their side. Very few commuters have approached the two helplines launched recently by the state transport department and the department of legal metrology to receive complaints against cheating auto drivers.
The poor response to the dedicated helplines is being blamed on a variety of factors. Some commuters find the two telephone numbers too long to remember , while others complain that the helplines don’t function at the times they are most needed, late at night or early in the morning, when the auto drivers are at their exploiting best.

The helplines , which are being maintained by the legal metrology department, are expected to help consumers file complaints with its assistant controller. But staff manning the lines have been left twiddling their thumbs most times as few calls have been received.

“Only around two or three commuters call us in a day and we refer their complaints to the agencies concerned for action. We receive complaints only during office hours on all working days,” says a senior officer of the department of legal metrology.

He claims that between 2002 and 2006 the department earned Rs 61,33,814 in fines collected from auto drivers for tampering with meters. “This shows how effectively we are working in the city,” he contends.

But consumer activists like Raghupati Bhat complain that the helplines don’t serve much of a purpose as they don’t function late evening or in the mornings when drivers exploit passengers the most.” Drivers simply behave like robbers at these times of the day. But the helplines cannot be reached during these hours,” he regrets.

Others find the eight digit numbers of the helplines hard to remember. Complains Mr Rajshekhar Rao, a resident of Malleswaram, “All other helplines and complaint boxes have three or four digit numbers. If a number is something like 100 or 101 then it is easier to remember. But these numbers are too big to come to mind instantly” The traffic police too is unhappy with the service.

“It is impossible to follow up on the complaints received through the helplines. It is very difficult to track down one auto driver in a city with more than 75,000 autos,” says a traffic police officer .

Noted consumer activist Muralidhara Y.G. says people have little faith that their complaints will lead to any kind of action.”There is no guarantee that action will be taken against the erring auto drivers. It is very important that they are punished to win public faith,” he stresses.


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