You many have been perplexed at the sight of several commercial vehicles parked on the service lane of Delhi-Gurgaon expressway near the Delhi-Gurgaon border at Sirhaul while heading to the city from New Delhi over the last week.
The reason has now come to light. It turns out that drivers of commercial vehicles had been queueing up at the toll collection booth each day, often for hours at a stretch, to pay road tax to the state transport department (STA).
They had been enduring chaos at the toll booths and facing dissent from passengers even as they lost out on precious seconds and revenue contemplating whether to opt between daily or monthly permit.
As per the revision in road tax announced by the state government, which came into effect from April 1, commercial drivers have to pay Rs 3,000 per month or Rs 100 per day to enter Haryana. Earlier, after paying Rs 950, the drivers ply for 3 months in Haryana.
Suresh Tiwari, a cab driver attached to OLA, said the hike along with the road tax charged by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has reduced his earnings by 30 per cent.
“New Delhi has an excellent public transport system. Cabs are essentially needed for commuters in Gurgaon and they provide the majority of our daily earnings. The MCD had already been collecting Rs 100 every time a commercial vehicle entered New Delhi. Now, the decision by the Haryana government to hike road tax has made our pockets lighter. After two visits to Gurgaon, I have no choice but to limit my services within New Delhi and hope to get enough passengers to get by,” Tiwari said.
Keeping in mind the fact that they do not have to cross the border on a daily basis, most drivers settle for Rs 100 per day. Some pay Rs 700 at one-go to ply their vehicles for a week, while a handful opt for the monthly pass.
For Mohammad Intezar Malik, an UBER driver from New Delhi, the daily wait at the toll has hurt his hopes of maximizing his profits and hence, he now opts for a permit for five days at once.
“On every visit (to Gurgaon), it takes me more than half-an-hour to get my permit from STA. Although, uncertainty looms on whether I will daily get to ferry a passenger to Gurgaon, I opt for a five-day pass by paying Rs 500. I’d rather have a permit and not enough passengers to Gurgaon than fail to draw a single passenger by not having one,” Malik said.
In addition, the STA’s server is yet to be updated and aligned with the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) or the excise department’s database. The RTA used to collect taxes from passenger and goods vehicles earlier. Hence, each driver is filling his details prior to getting his permit.
“The process was more streamlined earlier. The RTA had our details and we just needed to pay them the fees for three months at once. It took us about five minutes to get our permits. Besides waiting in the queue, now I have to fill my details on each visit. The process, now, is extremely tedious,” Jagtar Singh Negi, a commercial cab driver, said.
The despair is not restricted to drivers alone. Passengers, too, have been waiting at the toll as the drivers scrambled for procuring their permit.
“The driver takes more than 20 minutes, if not longer, to get his state permit. The wait adds to my travelling time. I was completely unaware of this development. The government should make the process (issuing permits) online and relieve drivers and passengers,” Sunil Gupta, an employee of an automotive company in Manesar said.