While taxi drivers are ready to replace their old vehicles, they want sufficient time and soft loans to help buy new vehicles at lower interest rates.
The state transport authority, on Monday, announced its decision to phase out taxis and autorickshaws that are more than 20 and 16 years old respectively from August 1. Consequently, more than 6,000 taxis and 16,000 old autorickshaws will now have to be replaced. Currently, taxis older than 25 years need to be scrapped, while there is no age restriction on autos.
“This is a one-sided and arbitrary decision. Taxi drivers should give some financial help such as soft loans and sufficient time to bring about the change. The state government should subsidise the loan for drivers by reducing the interest rate to 4 per cent,” said AL Quadros, general secretary of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
“As we were not aware of the impending decision, some of us have spent huge amounts on vehicle repairs. We should at least get a year to replace the vehicle,” said Ramesh Yadav, taxi driver.
Commuter activists, however, have claimed that the age limits should have been reduced further. “Public transport vehicles such as taxis and autorickshaws are continuously on the run. This makes them more prone to damage. So, the life span should be restricted to 12 years for taxis and 10 years for autorickshaws,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairperson Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).
Currently, 200-225 taxis are scrapped every month. “The fitness certificate for vehicles that are older than 20 years will also be renewed only till July 30. In August, the owners will be asked to renew their permits, for which they will have to approach the regional transport office and show their vehicle papers,” said Madhukar Jadhav, regional transport officer (RTO).
Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, said, “We haven’t received a copy of this decision. We will decide our course of action after studying the order.”