Wednesday brought no respite for Mumbaiites who had to rely on taxis and autos to commute. While taxis stayed off the roads despite assurances that they would ply, automen demanded that commuters pay the new hiked fare, which comes into effect only today.
The heavy downpour through the day slowed down train services and road traffic, adding to the commuters’ misery.
Following the auto fare hike, the taxi union too negotiated a Rs 2 hike — the base fare rises from Rs 14 to Rs 16. The revised rates apply from Thursday.
A.L. Quadros, president of Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said cab drivers stayed off the roads because of stray incidents of violence. “Some taxi drivers were threatened after which they stopped plying to avoid damage to vehicles,” he said.
Even as Mumbaiites continued to suffer, those in charge did not think it necessary to step in. While Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was away on a Vidarbha tour, Home Minister R.R. Patil chose not to take any initiative to clamp down on miscreants.
Transport Secretary C.S. Sangitrao insisted that there was no strike. “They [drivers] may have not been plying to avoid losses,” he said.
“I spent more than 30 minutes at Dadar station, waiting for a cab. There were cabs lined up outside, but none of them agreed to go. They said they were on strike. The rain made it worse. Finally, one cabbie agreed to go at the meter rate,” said Avantika Sharma (27), a sales professional based in Khar.