The traffic police had promised Mumbaiites more than a month ago that they would take strict action against auto and taxi drivers who refused to ply within three days. What commuters did not know and what the traffic cops did not explain was the definition of ‘strict action’ — which in this case is forwarding the complaints to the Regional Transport Office.
The 5,565 complaints made between April and September against errant drivers on the traffic police department’s website were simply sent to the RTO, HT has learnt.
Complainants are upset with the lack of action. “If the traffic police only forwards the complaints to the RTO, what is the need to lodge a complaint with them? We might as well complain to the RTO,” said Suraj Doshi, a resident of Powai who filed a complaint against a taxi driver in January and is still waiting for them to take action.
“The traffic police should not have claimed that they would take action,” said Nikhil Mukhi, a resident of Ghatkopar.
The usual punishment for refusing to take a fare is a fine up to Rs 200 and suspension of licence; both the traffic police and the RTO personnel have the right to fine the errant drivers.
“We forward the complaints to the RTO within three days. This is the action we had promised,” said Devdas Chavan, police inspector (traffic), in charge of complaints made on the website.
“The traffic police do not have the resources to gather data about the addresses of the errant drivers and the process is time-consuming so we forward the complaints to the RTO, which is the concerned authority.” The RTO can record the offence and as when the driver goes to the RTO to renew his licence or for some other reason, he could be penalised.
Chavan adds that complainants also sometimes make the process difficult. “At times we are not able to trace the complainants as they don’t put in their address or phone number so it gets difficult to find the rogue drivers,” he said, adding that the department continues to fine drivers who are caught by traffic constables on the roads. “We seize their licence and fine them when they come to collect them.”
The traffic police claim they fine more than 200 drivers for refusing to take fares every day.