With only 92 officers to undertake the recalibration of around 1.5 lakh autorickshaws and taxis in the city, the exercise that will begin at the three regional transport offices (RTOs) on Thursday is likely to take more than a couple of months.
As the new fare structure will be effective from Thursday, the commuters will have no choice but to rely on the new tariff cards with the drivers to pay for their trips.
While approving the hike in fares based on the Hakim panel formula, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) had set a 45-day deadline for the completion of recalibration of meters by the transport department.
Under the current procedure, a designated officer has to be present when the recalibrated meter is tested on track to ensure that it is error-free.
According to the RTO officials, limited manpower will make it tough to complete the task within 45 days.
The present strength of ranked officers at the three RTO offices at Tardeo, Andheri and Wadala is 92.
While 6-10 motor vehicle inspectors will handle the recalibration exercise in the morning, the rest will supervise it later in the day.
“On an average, 500-600 auto and taxi meters are tested at the three RTOs. By engaging a few more officials, the capacity could be doubled. But, it cannot be more than 1,200 tests a day,” said an RTO official.
So, with 32-35 working days in one-and-a-half months, the RTO offices cannot test more than 50,000 meters. “The exercise cannot be completed by December. It will take at least three months,” said a senior transport department official. Also, engaging more officers for meter-testing could affect other works.
“The RTOs are facing staff crunch. Also, there is no sufficient infrastructure for recalibration. How can they complete the recalibration in 45 days,” said AL Quadros, general secretary of Mumbai Taximen’s Union. The union has demanded the deadline for recalibration should be extended till May.