‘We are very grateful to Didi but we need a fare hike to run taxis’--- this is the message from minority youths who received key and papers for new taxis from chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday.
The chief minister initiated a ‘Taxi loan’ programme for the minorities on Wednesday at Netaji Indoor stadium.
With fuel price skyrocketing, taxi drivers and owners are having a hard time running the vehicles and many have already quit. The state government has already turned down the demand for a fare hike.
The taxi unions called for an indefinite strike after October 8, but Mamata Banerjee requested them to wait till the festive season is over.
“I am grateful to the chief minister for granting me the loan. But a fare hike would help us run these taxis,” Alamdar Ali said; one of the beneficiaries who received an offer letter from Banerjee.
“Its very difficult to survive being a taxi-driver. I have to fend for my family. How will I get my sister married? There is a fixed amount of Rs. 400 which I have to pay to the owner everyday whether I get passengers or not,” Alamdar (30) said.
After passing his secondary examination he could not study further and learnt how to drive. He now plans to drive his taxi by himself and even keep a driver in order to meet his ends.
Like Alamdar, other recipients including Mohammed Baddrudzaman and Mohammed Sabir shared similar feelings. They all are grateful to the chief minister, but are aware of the practical problems of running a taxi these days.
“I thank the chief minister from my heart but a fare hike is needed. I hope that after the festive season there will be a hike. Or else it is difficult to run the taxi,” Badrudzaman said.
According to Abu Ayesh Mondol, chairman of West Bengal Minority Development and Finance Corporation, the beneficiaries would get a loan of Rs. 4,52,000 each.
“The nine who had been given offer letters had to complete the paper works and then receive the keys to the vehicles. There would have had been more beneficiaries had the High Court order against BSIII vehicles not been there. Now that there is a relaxation for another six months, we intend to give out 100 more taxis to applicants, by March 31, 2013,” Mondol said.
City cabbies have been crying out aloud for a hike in fares in the light of the increase in the price of diesel.