Flooded with complaints about taxi and autorickshaw drivers refusing to ply short distances during the rainy season, the traffic police have intensified their anti-refusal campaign against such drivers and have penalised around 500 such errant drivers daily in August.
“We received many calls on our helplines regarding taxi and rickshaw drivers refusing to ply during the rains. It is a nuisance and annoys the commuter, especially when he is stranded in the rain,” said a senior traffic police officer.
The traffic police officers agree that the problem occurs more frequently near the railway stations because the driver waits for long distance fares.
Harried commuters, who called the traffic helplines, were also irked with the behaviour of drivers, who do not stop when waived by a commuter even when the rickshaw or taxi is empty or drive off even when a person has partially entered the autorickshaw.
Following the rise in the number of such complaints, the traffic police department intensified its campaign against errant cab and auto drivers in the city. The number of cab drivers, who have been penalised has shot up considerably, from 20-25 cases per day earlier, it is now 500 cases daily.
The complaints are not only restricted to traffic police helplines, even the civic body’s helplines were flooded with such plaints from harassed commuters. The civic body’s staff manning these helplines would attend these calls and pass on the complaints to the traffic police, who then would swing into action and act against errant drivers.
“Since there was a rise in the complaints from commuters, we decided to intensify the drive and have been registering cases against errant cabbies,” said Brijesh Singh, additional commissioner of police (traffic).
According to the Motor Vehicles Act, no taxi or auto driver can refuse to ply when the flag of the taxi reads on hire. Under sections 22 (d) and 178 (3) (b), refusing to ply is punishable with a fine of maximum Rs100 for autos and in the case of taxi, it is punishable with a fine of maximum Rs200.
Between January and July, the traffic police had penalised 2,608 drivers for refusal to ply.
Meanwhile, taxi unions are also training the cab drivers not to refuse commuters, but they say that during the rains, most of them refuse to avoid being caught in a traffic jam. They also blamed it on the potholes in the city.