The Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union will soon be launching a campaign demanding permission to ply in the island city as well.
On Friday, the union was making preparations with their signature campaign to support their recent demand to enter the island city. They plan to distribute pamphlets and take signatures from people outside Churchgate and CST stations.
The union’s attempt at garnering popular support for this demand is significant in the wake of criticism from residents of the island city, who feel rickshaws will worsen the traffic situation. “Roads in the island city were built years ago and are congested with private vehicles and taxis. They are not wide enough to handle thousands of rickshaws,” said A Shenoy, member, Mumbai Vikas Samiti.
On Friday, as heavy rains lashed the city, Mumbaiites in the suburbs had a tough time dealing with autorickshaw and taxi drivers, who refused to ply short distances or demanded unreasonable fares.
Commuters at various locations in the city complained that rickshaw and taxi drivers refused to ply to areas known to be water-logged during the rains. Several rickshaws and taxis were seen parked along streets. Taxi drivers were seen refusing passengers who wanted to travel to areas around Sion and Hindamata, fearing flooded streets.
Justifying their actions, A Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said, “It is normal for taxi drivers to refuse to ply to parts that are water-logged.” Shashank Rao, member, Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union, also made the same argument, while denying that a large number of rickshaws stayed off the roads.
“Rickshaws did not go off the roads. The ones parked on the streets were probably having their spark-plugs repaired, which often get damaged in the rain,” he said.