Two days after the auto strike ended, people continued to be harassed by rickshaw drivers. People complained that rickshaw drivers either refused to ply or did not halt when passengers called for them.
The regional transport office (RTO) faces maximum complaints from people about auto rickshaw drivers refusing
fares, especially short distance ones.
“There was no difference in their attitudes even after the RTO has been taking stringent steps. They refused fares and were willing to ply only on selected roads,” said Poonam Singh, a resident of Vile Parle.
On September 16-17, the Andheri RTO began a drive against auto drivers after they received complaints about fast meters and refusal of fares.
A surprise check conducted on 150 autorickshaws plying in the western suburbs
revealed how rampantly passengers are fleeced: 97 autorickshaws — nearly 65% —
were found to have tampered meters. On an average, inspectors found that the meter was running 40-60 paise faster per kilometre. A fine of Rs1,500 was imposed on errant autorickshaw drivers. They were asked to pay the fine when they visit the RTO.
This led to a backlash from some auto drivers who not only went off the road, but also forced others to park their autos.
Sources in the RTO said their next drive would be against the refusal of fares. Of the 6,000-odd complaints received on their help line number, most of them is on the refusal of fares by rickshaw drivers. “We have been educating the drivers to stop refusing fares and we will continue to do so,” said Shashank Rao, auto rickshaw union leader.