Autorickshaws and taxis will be off the roads on Tuesday. The move is a protest against the transport department’s decision to install global positioning system (GPS) devices at a much higher cost than it promised in court. It has also refused to increase auto and taxi fares despite a two-fold increase in CNG prices. The auto unions will also organise a protest rally at Jantar Mantar on Monday.
“The transport department had promised to install GPS device for Rs 7,500 and even gave an affidavit in the high court. But, they are now charging Rs 13,500, which a poor driver cannot afford,” said Rajendra Soni, spokesperson of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh. Soni said auto unions will go on an indefinite strike if the government failed to address their demands.
However, senior transport department officials said auto unions were levelling baseless allegations to divert attention from the issue. In a statement issued on Sunday, principal secretary and commissioner (transport) R Chandramohan said some autorickshaw unions are trying to evade the installation of GPS device.
Since most autorickshaws are rented, said Chandramohan, their drivers refuse to go by the meter. To curb this menace, the transport department has made it mandatory for autorickshaws to have a GPS-enabled, integrated fare meters for real-time tracking of autos and fare meter transactions, Chandramohan said.
Reacting to charges that the transport department has empanelled just one vendor for GPS device, Chandramohan said only one agency has so far come forward and obtained the clearances. “The equipment should meet the laid down specifications, which were finalised in consultation with autorickshaw unions. The GPS device comes with an integrated fare meter and a printer. That’s why it costs this much. We have no control over the price of the equipment. We had asked the unions to mobilise GPS vendors and get them empanelled with us so that they can get the equipment at cheaper rates,” he added.
While revising fares in 2009, the transport department had made it mandatory for auto-rickshaws to install GPS devices to ensure that passengers are not fleeced. The department had even increased the fare by additional 50 paise per kilometre so that the extra money can go into buying GPS devices.